Center for Education

Engaging families and education stakeholders to innovate the education system, improve student outcomes, and strengthen support for educators.

The Keystone Value

Keystone’s Center for Education challenges entrenched assumptions in the education system through robust research, experienced practitioners, and by connecting families and students with education decision-makers. Keystone is a catalyst for effective and genuine engagement, providing all education stakeholders the opportunity to participate in the decisions and actions of the education system. Our team:

  • Structures and leads authentic family and district leadership engagement efforts

  • Gives communities an active voice in the discussions that have the most impact on them and their children

  • Commissions data-driven research highlighting crucial issues in our education system

  • Engages stakeholders and thought leaders on key education policy development

  • Builds capacity at the school and system level for effective collaborative dialogue

  • Bolsters the education workforce by improving teacher training and increasing entrance opportunities into the profession

  • Explores best practices, innovations and emerging approaches to instructional delivery

Our Impact

Sweating the Small Stuff: Rural and Urban Perspectives on Post-Secondary Preparation

Keystone Policy Center provides in-depth analysis addressing the urgent challenge of equipping students for success beyond high school. This comprehensive examination focuses on two distinct educational environments: Denver Public Schools’ CEC Early College and Center Consolidated School District 26JT. Learn More

Growing Ute Futures

Keystone Policy Center has been working with Ute Mountain Ute leaders to create a science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics curriculum that is also embedded with Ute arts, language, culture, and traditions. The Kwiyagat Community Academy, the first school located on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation, opened in Fall 2021 with 27 students enrolled in kindergarten and first grade. The school is a key component of Growing Ute Futures and is already making an impact within the community. Learn More

Back to School: Colorado’s Academic Performance

While schools largely returned to in-person learning according to the recommended health safety measures and other COVID-era precautions in the 2021-22 school year, data nationwide demonstrates that our students need more support than ever. This report details the first robust data set available in three years and the student achievement scores should be of great concern to parents, community and policy makers. Learn More

Homeownership for Colorado Teachers: Affording the American Dream

From 2020 to 2021 home prices in Colorado increased 20%, elevating an already important question about who can afford to be a homeowner in the state, and where. Homeownership for Colorado Teachers: Affording the American Dream is a report from the Keystone Policy Center that explores whether teachers in Colorado can afford to buy a home in the district in which they teach. The report evaluates the relationship between salary and housing affordability; and presents a series of non-exhaustive questions that communities could discuss to address the issue. Learn More

Colorado’s Missing Year

Keystone Policy Center released multiple reports analyzing data on Colorado education during the pandemic, which revealed critical gaps in student learning across the state but also indicated potential bright spots. The data paints a revealing picture of student participation and achievement during the pandemic. The second report explored recent enrollment and academic performance data to examine how charter schools fared relative to the state and other school district managed public schools in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

Education System Resiliency and Innovation Initiative

The initiative assembles education system leaders, educators, government officials, and stakeholders from within and outside the education system to develop new approaches that will improve support for the teaching workforce, deliver instruction that better prepares all students for the challenges of an ever-evolving world, and address issues within the education system that perpetuate inequities and achievement gaps that are only exacerbated during disruptive events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

Education Leadership Council

Keystone serves as an advisor for the Colorado Education Leadership Council (ELC) and assists the council in implementing the framework outlined in the “State of Education” report. The report was released December 2018 and serves as a “roadmap for educators, policymakers, business and community leaders, and others to identify ways to drive our system forward, together.” Keystone provides strategic engagement of community, private sector, education, and other leaders through a series of in-person meetings and gatherings bolstering a robust stakeholder engagement process by a diversity of communities.

Colorado Education Preparation Innovation Council

Although Colorado has made tremendous strides in supporting great teaching and improving outcomes for kids, many state policies governing who trains teachers and how they do so have remained largely unchanged and driven by a series of inputs. Existing policies are viewed by some as overly prescriptive for preparers and candidates alike. These policies have not been shown to improve the effectiveness of new teachers entering the profession. Current policies create barriers to entry for some candidates and limit preparers’ abilities to explore innovations in preparation practices. Onerous requirements can limit the types of people who are interested or able to become teachers or preparers of teachers. Learn More

Puerto Rico Career Pathways

Keystone supported the development of employment and career pathways for students completing their K-12 education in Puerto Rico. We secured partnerships with private sector employers to establish work-based learning and direct employment opportunities for students graduating in 2018. Through this direct outreach to employers and a student survey, we matched 127 students with opportunities aligned with their interests. We also convened a summit, Creating Pathways to Employment for Puerto Rico’s Students, in November in San Juan, PR. The main objective was to increase collaboration among employers and education leaders to ensure that every student has the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to be successful in the local economy and that local employers have a well-educated workforce to help them grow and improve the Puerto Rican economy.

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Education Projects Featured in the Keynotes Podcast

Past Projects

Licensing Educators for Academic Development (LEAD) Compact

Educator quality is broadly recognized as the single most important school-based factor that influences student achievement. Because of this, one of the key issues facing Colorado is the need to create an education system that attracts, supports, and retains diverse, high-quality educators.

In recognition of the importance of educator quality and research by the State Council on Educator Effectiveness, the Keystone Policy Center convened the Licensing Educators for Academic Development (LEAD) Compact in August 2013 with the support of the philanthropic community. The Compact was tasked with exploring the following four questions:

  • How can we increase the quality and quantity of teachers and principals wanting to enter the profession?
  • What should the pathways for entry to the profession be, how should we understand the differences between them, and what should candidates be able to demonstrate to show readiness?
  • How do teachers and principals advance through the profession in a way that recognizes their unique talents and provides professional growth and development in areas that need improvement?
  • With the goal of retaining our most effective teachers and principals, how do we recognize and reward them and provide growth opportunities?

LEAD Compact meetings took place between August and December of 2013 and were open to the public.

Massachusetts Educator Licensure

The Keystone Policy Center worked at the behest of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — and in partnership with TNTP (formerly known as The New Teacher Project) — to identify ways of aligning teacher licensure with the state’s educator quality standards to support student success. Through focus groups and regional meetings around the state, Keystone solicited and analyzed the perspectives of teachers, administrators, preparation program leaders and faculty, school support personnel, and district personnel to inform the design of potential changes in policy and practice.

Colorado Blended Learning

Keystone Policy Center developed a statewide roadmap to assist Colorado educators, district leaders, and state policymakers support and expand the use of blended learning — a teacher-led instructional method or strategy that combines classroom and digital learning, and through which students have some control over when, where, and at what pace they learn. Keystone worked with education leaders, teachers, and members of the public to develop the roadmap, including hosting more than a dozen meetings across Colorado, utilizing an online survey, and conferring with experts in other states.

Louisiana Teacher Preparation

At the behest of the Louisiana Department of Education and supported by a grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, the Keystone Policy Center is facilitated discussions with Louisiana educators to inform proposed changes to state education policy. Specifically, Keystone convened focus groups and outreach sessions between November 2014 and April 2015 across Louisiana to gather and synthesize perspectives of university, district, and school leaders on how best to enhance teacher preparation.

Colorado Higher Education Funding

Focused on making higher education funding more understandable and accountable for Coloradans, the Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 14-1319 to kick start a statewide conversation about a new base funding formula that considers role, mission, and performance. The Keystone Policy Center and Engaged Public partnered with the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) in 2014 to facilitate stakeholder engagement and a public input process to confront this long-term, systemic issue. The process solicited input through key informant interviews and stakeholder meetings in 16 communities with more than 400 attendees.

Keystone’s collaborative process resulted in recommendations for a new funding formula to better allocate state general fund dollars among the state’s public institutions of higher education. The state is in the process of implementing the new formula that Keystone’s work and outreach yielded.