Assembly

Let’s build high-quality, equitable, and individualized learning experiences for all young people.

Beta - By Bellwether

Assembly seeks to create equitable systems of education in which students can access a diversity of learning experiences, services, and supports that encourage their well-being, ensure mastery of knowledge and skills, and enable them to pursue their interests, talents, and goals.

Families with means already have disproportionate access to these opportunities through supplemental and out-of-system learning, creating a “shadow inequity” in how, where, and when students learn.

Bellwether - Testimonial

Assembly can break down barriers between school, family, and community to support every aspect of a child’s growth and development.

Publications

Some Assembly Required
How We Got Here
Current State & Emerging Trends
Our Team - Bellwether Education Partners

Some Assembly Required: How a More Flexible Learning Ecosystem Can Better Serve All Kids and Unlock Innovation

An education equal to the demands of the modern era will require the flexibility to customize learning experiences for each child, responsive to changing needs and demands, and rooted in equity in policy and practice. It will require creating communities where diverse students, families, educators, and others participate in shared endeavors. In short, to create an excellent, equitable, and dynamic education, some Assembly is required.

Our Team - Bellwether Education Partners

A History of Public Education and the Assembly of Services

Public schools are at the epicenter of efforts to better meet the needs of young people. Over the past 150 years, these schools have been gradually tasked with meeting more needs of more students. Today, education leaders and policymakers must determine whether it’s fair or reasonable to ask public schools to meet so many consequential student needs and — if not — what an alternative approach might be.

Our Team - Bellwether Education Partners

Not an Assembly Line: Current Practices and Emerging Trends of an Assembly-Based Education in K-12

There is more assembly in education today than first meets the eye. Schools provide or facilitate customized learning opportunities for millions of students across the country; millions more students select services and supports outside or instead of school. Done well, both have the potential to foster an ecosystem of learning options in which families and students assemble those that best meet their needs.

What’s Assembly?

Assembly puts families and students at the center of flexible services, supports, and learning experiences and allows them to customize experiences and build community. Equitable Assembly requires policies and practices that ensure access isn’t constrained by socioeconomic status or structural barriers such as transportation.

What’s Assembly?
Needs
Resources
Providers
Enabling Conditions

Needs

Each young person has fundamental needs as well as unique interests, talents, and goals. They require a variety of supports to grow into adults ready to contribute to their community, the economy, and the body politic.

Student Needs
  • English as a second language
  • English language arts
  • Foreign language
  • Individual passions
  • Math
  • Mental health, therapy, and related supports
  • Nutrition
  • Physical health and wellness screenings
  • Science
  • Sense of community
  • Social services
  • Social studies
  • Special education
  • Work experience

Resources

A flexible learning ecosystem includes the diversity of options available within and outside of school. To access these options, students and their families need funding, information, and agency.

Funding
Families need adequate, portable funding to ensure their children’s needs are met.
Information
Families need information to find learning options, assess how they align to students’ needs, and navigate the system.
Agency
Families need a sense of what’s possible, what engagement in their children’s education can look like, and guidance and support to take advantage of available opportunities.

Providers

Students could learn and receive support from many potential providers, each of which can contribute components of what students need for lifelong success.

  • Families
  • District schools
  • Charter schools
  • Private schools
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Public agencies
  • Businesses

Enabling Conditions

For a flexible learning ecosystem to function, an array of enabling conditions must develop.

Infrastructure

  • Broadband internet and devices
  • Buildings and locations to gather
  • Learning materials
  • Navigation support
  • Platforms and marketplaces
  • Student records
  • Transportation

Policy

  • Accountability and transparency
  • Option-enabling policies
  • Funding mechanisms
  • Governance arrangements
  • Student data and privacy
  • Other supportive policies

Human Capital

  • Advocates
  • Community members
  • Educators
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Pipelines
  • Policymakers

What’s broken?

A one-size-fits-all education solution puts an undue burden on schools to provide everything to young people. It leaves too many communities without diverse, high-quality educational experiences that meet the needs of all students — let alone experiences that cultivate students’ interests and passions. Those with resources routinely supplement or replace learning in school with tutoring, extracurriculars, and more, creating a “shadow inequity” that’s too often overlooked within the education sector.

What does Assembly mean for students?

K-12 students can access more learning, including academic courses, internships, dual enrollment opportunities, athletics, art, music, and more. Through an Assembly model, students can discover and explore their passions, cultivate their talents, discover their academic passions and career goals, and design a fuller, better education.

What are the challenges?

To make Assembly a reality, the field must understand infrastructure, human capital, and policy needs, including funding and costs; how Assembly can be accessible to all students across different and diverse communities; and how to navigate quality, equity, cost, accountability, data, and political roadblocks.

What’s next?

Beta by Bellwether, Advisory Group members, and field leaders will share research and analysis on how Assembly exists today, how localities are already doing Assembly, and how to better understand and overcome key challenges that face Assembly.

Advisory Group

Lori Armistead
Walton Family Foundation

Derrell Bradford
50CAN

Maya Martin Cadogan
Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE)

Joseph Connor
Odyssey

Mike Flanagan
Mastery Transcript Consortium

Selamawit Gebre
RESCHOOL

Michael Horn
Author, From Reopen to Reinvent

Natasha Kamrani
Organizer Zero

Christian Lehr
Tyton Partners

Michael McShane
EdChoice

Adam Peshek
Stand Together Trust

Aaliyah Samuel
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Don Soifer
Nevada Action for School Options

Curtis Valentine
Progressive Policy Institute

Note: Bellwether intentionally recruits an Advisory Group with diverse viewpoints. Participation in the Assembly Advisory Group does not constitute an endorsement of any of the ideas or perspectives shared here.

Join the Conversation

Join the #BetaByBellwether conversation on twitter and sign up for our newsletter to learn more.