Transformative, Evidence-Based Ideas

Alice Opalka

Research Analyst

Background

Alice Opalka is a former research analyst at the Center on Reinventing Public Education.

Publications

Alice Opalka

  • The Lens    

From crisis response to sustainable solution: What’s next for school district- and community-driven learning pods?

Alice Opalka

Over the past school year, CRPE has tracked how pandemic learning pods evolved from emergency responses to, in some cases, small, innovative, and personalized learning communities. 

  • Research Reports    

School Districts Across the Nation Plan for An Uncertain Year Ahead

Betheny Gross, Alice Opalka

This brief gives a snapshot of how school districts across the country are currently planning for fall 2020, how they are planning for contingencies of COVID-19 spread, and how this varies based on district characteristics.

  • Research Reports    

COVID-19 Revealed New Roles for Cities to Create a Continuum of Support for Youth and Families. They Shouldn’t End with the Pandemic

Alice Opalka

This brief examines the involvement of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. in creating learning pods during the pandemic.

  • Research Reports    

School Reopening Trends Offer Districts the Opportunity to Start Planning Beyond the Pandemic

Betheny Gross, Alice Opalka

Our latest analysis of school district learning models from March 1 to March 13 finds that a clear majority—57 percent—of the nation’s school districts report offering full-time in-person learning.

  • The Lens    

It takes a village: The pandemic learning pod movement, one year in

Alice Opalka, Ashley Jochim

Since the spring of 2020, learning pods have evolved from a new idea to a significant feature of the pandemic learning landscape.

  • Research Reports    

U-Turn: Surge of COVID Cases Reverses Reopening Progress in America’s School Districts

Betheny Gross, Alice Opalka

Our December review of a statistically representative sample of 477 districts found 31 percent are operating in fully remote learning—a larger percentage than at any other point during the fall semester.

  • Research Reports    

One Step Forward, One Step Back: Public Health Fears Keep America’s School Districts on a Reopening Treadmill

Betheny Gross, Alice Opalka

This brief gives an update on our nationally representative sample of school district reopening plans.

  • The Lens    

As many school districts reopen virtually, the opportunity gap widens for students living in poverty

Betheny Gross, Alice Opalka

As students and teachers begin the new school year, the opportunity gap for students living in poverty is likely to be wider than ever.

  • The Lens    

Tight or loose? It depends: District central offices in supporting school-based COVID-19 response

Alice Opalka

Our analysis of district responses nationwide in the spring found many districts that responded quickly used a “tight,” centralized response and strong leadership to set expectations and provide for the basic resource needs for all students. 

  • The Lens    

Rural school districts can be creative in solving the internet connectivity gap—but they need support

Alice Opalka

Gaps in access to the internet and instruction were evident in CRPE’s analysis of rural districts. However, rural districts also devised innovative strategies to help put materials and instruction in the hands of students.

  • Research Reports    

School Districts Across the Nation Plan for An Uncertain Year Ahead

Betheny Gross, Alice Opalka

This brief gives a snapshot from July 27-31 of how school districts across the country are currently planning for fall 2020.

  • Research Reports    

Getting Back to School: An Update on Plans from Across the Country

Betheny Gross, Alice Opalka

This brief gives a snapshot from August 17–21 of how school districts across the country are planning for fall 2020.

  • The Lens    

Too Many Schools Leave Learning to Chance During the Pandemic

Betheny Gross, Alice Opalka

We knew the sudden shift to remote learning would be hard. For the last two months CRPE followed a group of large, mostly urban school systems as they clarified their expectations for teaching students, tracking attendance, and monitoring learning.

  • Research Reports    

Too Many Schools Leave Learning to Chance During the Pandemic

Betheny Gross, Alice Opalka

This brief summarizes our findings from a review of COVID-19 response plans of 477 school districts across the country.

  • The Lens    

Avoiding Long-Term Harm from “Do No Harm” Grading Policies

Alice Opalka, Barbara Talkington

Seattle Public Schools made local headlines for its decision to award only As or incompletes as part of its revised grading policy during COVID-19 closures.

  • The Lens    

The Power of “How Are You?”: Teacher Check-ins in Remote Learning

Alice Opalka, Sean Gill

Last week, Fairfax County in Virginia delayed the launch of remote learning due to technical challenges. Earlier in the month, Los Angeles Unified School District reported that about one third of their over 600,000 students were not logging into their online learning platforms regularly, and that about 15,000 had been completely absent since online learning began.

  • The Lens    

Ceding Power to Create More Transformative Innovation

Alice Opalka

This blog is the third in a series reporting on CRPE’s “Big Think Network.” Through this project, CRPE is convening a diverse group of practitioners who are working on a variety of  projects, all geared toward the goal of creating a more customized and equitable education system.

  • Research Reports    

A Middle Way for States in the ESSA Era: Lessons from Texas

Alice Opalka, Ashley Jochim, Michael DeArmond

The report examines the Texas Education Agency’s System of Great Schools (SGS) initiative, which calls on districts to manage school performance in new ways, expands access to school choice options, and takes a dynamic approach to managing their supply of schools.

  • Research Reports    

Seizing the Opportunity: Educating Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools

Michael DeArmond, Sean Gill, Betheny Gross, Georgia Heyward, Robin Lake

This report is the first step in developing an evidence base about how charter schools meet the needs of unique learners, how they can improve in this work, and what aspects of chartering as a governance model support or impede their ability to do so.

  • Research Reports    

Student Mobility in Kansas City

Michael DeArmond, Alice Opalka, Patrick Denice

This brief examines student mobility in Kansas City Public Schools.

  • Research Reports    

Lessons Learned About District-Charter Partnerships: How Sharing Instructional Practices Can Pave the Way for More Collaboration

Alice Opalka

An overview of the district-charter collaboration landscape and one strategy that many cities are pursuing: sharing instructional practices across district and charter schools.

  • The Lens    

Integrating Schools in San Antonio: Start With One. An Interview with Mohammed Choudhury

Alice Opalka, Georgia Heyward

Cities across the country are grappling with persistent school segregation. While some argue that public school choice increases the problem, there are ways that cities can use carefully designed school choice initiatives as a vehicle for integrating schools.

  • Research Reports    

The Slowdown in Bay Area Charter School Growth: Causes and Solutions

Robin Lake, Roohi Sharma, Alice Opalka

This report examines why charter school growth in the San Francisco Bay Area has slowed dramatically and offers solutions for cities nationwide to encourage the development of new high-quality schools.

  • Research Reports    

Collision Course: Embracing Politics to Succeed in District-Charter Collaboration

Ashley Jochim, Alice Opalka

This report examines how politics shapes the work of district-charter collaboration and offers strategies for district and charter leaders to improve their chances of success.

  • The Lens    

“It’s Not My Problem!” Why Charter Schools and Districts Need to Work Together on the Politics of School Closure

Robin Lake, Alice Opalka

District budgets are badly strained when many of their schools are under-enrolled. This is one of the biggest reasons that districts with growing charter enrollment hit financial hurdles.

  • Research Reports    

The “City of Firsts” Charts a New Path on Turnaround

Ashley Jochim, Alice Opalka

This case study profiles the unique school improvement effort in Springfield, MA, and compares it with other turnaround strategies.

  • Research Reports    

Bridging the District-Charter Divide to Help More Students Succeed

Robin Lake, Sean Gill, Alice Opalka

Based on six years of research, this report explores why a growing number of districts and charter schools are choosing to work together, the costs and benefits of different types of cooperation, and the real impacts of successful collaboration on students and families.

  • Research Reports    

Apples to Apples: Common School Performance Frameworks as a Tool for Choice and Accountability

Alice Opalka

CRPE’s new paper focuses on developing a common school performance framework, tool for measuring performance of an individual school using a defined set of metrics that is common to schools across different agencies or governing bodies.

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