Transcend’s Innovative Models Exchange is a source for inspiring learning models as well as the resources and supports that are available to help you implement them.
Despite innovation across nearly every sector of society, schooling in America operates largely the same way it did a century ago. Educational inequities persist, much of what we know about how individuals learn best is not honored, and far too many students are unprepared for our complex, global society.
At Transcend, we believe sharing and learning from promising models is critical to school innovation and improvement, and we created The Innovative Models Exchange to help.
The Innovative Models Exchange is a free platform where you can search for and share compelling programs that fundamentally reshape the educational experience. The Exchange includes details on each model’s design and the resources and supports available to help implement it. Our hope is that you find innovative models to learn from, be inspired by, and try in your community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Models are programs that your school can adopt to shape the experiences of young people, families, and educators.
They reflect intentional decisions about various elements of school, such as curriculum, culture, adult roles, scheduling, and more. These decisions are reflected in the resources, structures, and practices of the model and together form a coherent and logical approach to achieving specific goals.
Models come in different shapes and sizes. They may define a comprehensive school design and all the experiences of all the stakeholders within it, or just one part of a broader experience.
At Transcend, we believe that preparing all young people to thrive in and transform the world will require a shift away from the traditional, industrial model of learning toward learning that is more equitable and aligned to the 21st century.
We know this is possible, but we also know change is incredibly hard, and that’s where models come in.
We believe the scale and scope of models make them “just right” for accelerating school redesign; they are not too small and are not too big. Stand-alone solutions, like specific curricula, technology products, or instructional frameworks, often cannot shape significant parts of an overall learning environment. On the other hand, comprehensive whole school designs can be challenging to implement in an existing learning environment where there are many contextual factors that may create barriers.
When selecting models for the Exchange, we ask five key questions:
- To what extent does the model shift learning to be more equitable and aligned to 21st-century needs?
Innovative models shift away from the traditional, industrial model of learning to learning that is more equitable and responsive to the demands and opportunities of the 21st century. Transcend’s ten “Leaps” describe ways the learner experience can shift toward extraordinary, equitable learning. Models on the Exchange help schools take one or more of these Leaps. Transcend’s Ten Leaps
- To what extent does the model impact learners?
We strive to understand the evidence of impact for each model to the greatest degree possible. Of course, it’s often hard to measure many of the outcomes innovative models are driving toward, and even when strong measures exist, there are many other barriers—like cost, time, and research design—that make understanding the direct connection between a model and its outcomes challenging. As a result, we strive for transparency and thoroughness above conclusive and definitive evaluations of a model’s impact on the Exchange. We are mindful of educational inequities that are often pervasive in schools and seek to elevate models that are achieving equitable outcomes for all students. For each model, we review all publicly available information on impact, as well as what the community or model provider shares with us.
- To what extent does the model address a current need in the education field?
Our work with school communities and systems, as well as our collaboration with other organizations, enables us to learn about the evolving interests and needs of the education field. The models on the Exchange are aligned to one or more of these needs.
- To what extent is the model clearly defined and documented in a way that supports others in implementing it?
While the models on the Exchange embrace continuous improvement, it is also important for them to be codified to the point where the details of the model are fairly well defined and can be communicated with clarity and consistency. In addition, we strive for all models on the Exchange to have some implementation support available in the form of resource toolkits, school visits, professional development, cohort learning communities, 1:1 coaching and consulting, and/or the option for the model provider to directly implement the model in your community.
- To what extent does the model increase the diversity of models on The Exchange and make it a more inclusive space?
Models on the Exchange are diverse across various factors like the design of the model (e.g., the types of practice they use, the goals they drive toward) as well as the contexts and communities the model was designed by and for. We seek especially to elevate models with leaders of color, those serving BIPOC communities, and those operating in rural contexts.
- Find a Model. You can find a model by searching specific keywords or using filters like key practices and structures the model uses, student aims and outcomes the model drives toward, Leaps the model makes, grade bands the model serves, or resources and supports the model offers. You can even quickly preview each model by clicking the eye icon.
- Navigate the Model’s Entry. Once you find a model that’s aligned with your interests, you can click to learn more about it. You can get an overview of the model, including what makes the model innovative, on the first tab. You can dive deeper into the details of the model, including goals of the model, a description of the core experience, and the supporting structures that enable it, on the Design tab. Then, you can learn about the reach and impact of the model as well as the resources and supports offered on the Implementation tab. Lastly, you can access all linked artifacts, including videos, documents, and more, on the Links tab.
- Explore a Collection. Interested in learning about a specific topic? Check out collections, which include an overview of the topic as well as models, curated resources, and events related to it.
Once you select and review a model, you can check out the resources & supports the model offers on the Implementation tab. Each model has different offerings, which may include resource toolkits, professional development, cohort learning communities, 1:1 coaching and consulting, direct model implementation, and school visits. If there is any cost associated with any of these supports, we do our best to indicate those. You should reach out to the model directly by clicking the offering or reaching out to the model’s contact. Please note that the Exchange is not a brokerage and cannot arrange or provide offerings.
- Conditions matter. While wanting to redesign to make learning more innovative and equitable is a great start, the conditions have to be right to make that desire a reality. Transcend’s Conditions for Innovation framework is a helpful tool for you to self-assess your school on the 5 Cs of conditions: conviction, clarity, capacity, coalition, and culture. Conditions for Innovation Framework
- Community commitment is critical. Perhaps the most important condition in implementing a new model is coalition—the broad community must be engaged and invested. The community includes not just school leaders but teachers, families, and students.
- Models must fit your whole school design. Before finding a model to implement, take stock of your current school design blueprint and work with stakeholders to identify gaps in the existing design. In addition, it is critical to ensure that design principles are honored throughout the school design to ensure that the design is comprehensive and no parts contradict one another. School Design Blueprint Guide
- Resource Toolkits: Documents and tools to help schools learn more about and implement the model including but not limited to design overviews, curricula, schedules, technology specs, handbooks, measurement tools, videos, etc.
- School Visits: An opportunity to visit a school(s) that uses the model to see it in action. This may be 1:1 or in a group.
- Professional Development: Professional development to learn more about, build coalition around, and implement the model. This can include self-paced courses, live webinars, group workshops, etc. These professional development opportunities are provided by the model for a general audience (not customized).
- Cohort Learning Communities: A group engagement with the model to support planning for and implementing the model. Each cohort learning community will vary but typically involves working directly with the model provider and other school design communities on similar journeys.
- 1:1 Coaching and Consulting: A 1:1 engagement with the model to support planning for and implementing the model. 1:1 coaching and consulting can vary in intensity of support from light touch services to deep partnership. This typically involves assessing readiness, training, planning, and implementation support.
- Direct Model Implementation: A service in which the model directly runs programming of the model for a learning community.
At Transcend, we believe learning environments must prepare all young people to thrive in and transform the world. However, the traditional industrial design of schooling that is still common today—and which originated to efficiently establish basic knowledge and skills across a mass of young people—too often functions to sort, separate, and rank students in oppressive ways that reproduce the inequities and opportunity gaps of our broader society. Through research and work with school communities, we’ve found ten “leaps” to move from inequitable, industrial-era learning to learning that is equitable and responsive to the demands and
opportunities of the 21st century. At the core, these leaps derive from a fundamentally different purpose of education—one that centers on equity, liberation, and human flourishing, so that all young people will not only maximize their own potential but also see, confront, and tackle society’s greatest challenges.
Transcend is a nonprofit organization and does not get paid to put models on the Exchange. The Exchange is a free, open-source platform that is philanthropically funded, which allows us to select models based on the criteria above. However, Transcend engages in R&D partnerships with schools to design and codify models—some models on the Exchange are a result of our partnerships.
We do this by partnering closely with communities, offering tools and resources that can support school redesign to the wider education field, and cultivating a surrounding ecosystem that is conducive to change.