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What We're Learning: Our Blog

At C!E, we lean into the concept of “leading with learning” and delight in digging into nerdy topics, lines of inquiry with colleagues, and asking the hard questions. This blog serves as a sandbox, our testing ground, and space for rumination to share out C!E’s work.


Here you can find resources, papers, questions, and conversations we’re having as we strive to learn from and alongside our peers about our ever-changing field.

Featured Posts


Dear Friends, Today we are sharing a new seminal report called Measuring Forward: Emerging Trends in K-12 Assessment Innovation. Knowledge Works serves as one of the founding members, along with C!E and the Aurora Institute, of a small but influential network of national organizations called the Student-Centered Assessment and Accountability Coalition who are advocating for greater flexibility in innovative assessment and accountability educational systems at local, state, and federal levels. With Knowledge Works taking the lead through a small grant, all of the members canvassed our respective communities to produce the report.

We are including the report here as part of the C!E blog series as a help and a reminder to all of you who follow us that learner centered assessment has truly become a national movement, one that is increasingly capturing the attention of policy makers at all levels, educators, parents, and, most importantly, students. If we are sincere in our commitments to build equity-seeking assessment systems, it is essential that these emerging systems be truly learner centered, finding ways to recognize the unique gifts of each student, regardless of race, economic status, or zip code. This has been a foundational principle for C!E, and, indeed, for all of our partners.

As the gray veil of the pandemic finally begins to show signs of lifting, children and their families are crying out for major shifts in how education performs and how it is held accountable. Such a demand for change can only be met by innovators and pathfinders working closest to the learning process. Over time, if fostered, these many beacons of light will shine across our cities and towns, illuminating new paths forward for generations to come. This report points to the many ways and trends emerging just now. We ask that you give it a read and let us know about the innovations that are creating change in your communities. For those of you who are desperate for more supportive educational policy and legislation, please know that the Student-Centered Assessment and Accountability Coalition will look to make your achievements known in your State Houses, the Administration, and even the Halls of Congress. Read the report Measuring Forward: Emerging Trends in K-12 Assessment Innovation here.

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This week we shared about exciting changes at C!E, and today we follow on with exciting movements in our partner organizations and communities.

Change is indeed afoot. We are tracking subtle but significant shifts in the ways that increasing numbers of federal, state, and local leaders are thinking about education systems. Less “find the average” and more “make it work for every person.” Less “I have the answer” and more “let’s learn together.” We are excited to be part of this momentum, and even more excited to learn alongside our partners and co-conspirators in the field. Read on for some thoughts on the great work coming from the broader community.

Using ARP Funds to Redesign Schools for Whole Child Equity (Science of Learning and Development Alliance)

As states and districts begin to receive a historic influx of cash from the federal American Recovery Plan (ARP) fund for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER), numerous experts have offered advice on the “right” projects and programs for the funds. Our stance, articulated in our Investing in Learning post back in March, is less about the right programs and more about the way funding decisions are made: specifically, to elevate local, contextual wisdom; to make investments with a learning orientation; and to constrain processes, not ideas. Having said that, states should play a role in sharing best available information about ideas and programs that might bring local districts closer toward key goals like whole-child equity. And we think the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance has some pretty spot-on ideas in their recent brief, Using ARP Funds to Redesign Schools for Whole Child Equity. Education leaders can use the guiding principles and policy priorities in the SoLD report as substrates for the kinds of investment processes we described in March that, we believe, have a better chance of advancing equity and whole-child wellness during these complex and uncertain times.

How to Make Senior Capstones Truly Anti-Racist (Future Focused Education)

In a previous C!E post, we shared about recent developments in New Mexico to eradicate structural racism in the public education system through (in part) assessment and accountability redesign. Central to this process has been the creation of “holistic and community-based capstone assessments.” But, as Future Focused Education’s Lisa Martinez explains, capstone assessments are not inherently anti-racist. Martinez examines capstones in another place - Oakland, California - to probe thinking about what it might look like to develop capstone assessments that reflect the cultural values and identities unique to each New Mexico community - or any community, anywhere.

Linked Learning 101 (Linked Learning Alliance)

In C!E’s work to advance equity-seeking systems transformation, our questions about new approaches to assessment and accountability have increasingly harmonized with kindred questions about how industry partnerships and career pathways can potentially help drive a system to become more responsive and learner-centered. In this space, Linked Learning - who has been an intermediary partner to California in our Interstate Learning Community - is offering a low cost virtual professional learning series on developing more equitable student experiences and outcomes in pathway, academy, or CTE programs. It began last week, but we wanted to share about it in case the series is still of interest to your work. There are still a number of sessions between now and November 10 and it is open to both individuals and teams regardless of whether you are pursuing Linked Learning at your school. Learn more about the series here.

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Hello colleagues and friends!

We have been a little quiet in our communications recently as we managed a number of big projects and made our way through some organizational shifts. As we enter October and come up for air, we wanted to provide everyone with a few updates.

A New Partner!

We are excited to announce that we are welcoming Rita Harvey to our team! She comes to us from the nationally recognized MCIEA project, which many of you know is a local accountability system being developed and governed by a number of communities in Massachusetts. In that work and other work with the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE), Rita has sharpened expertise in performance assessment, balanced assessment systems and accountability systems which, as you can imagine, makes her a particularly compelling intellectual thought partner to us at C!E. She has also done research on the intersections between race and special education, which our nation is finding to be an even more important topic as COVID pulled the curtain back and revealed just how grim it can be for young people standing at that intersection. And, as you all know, how we work is as important to us at C!E as what kind of work we do, and we are thrilled that Rita is bringing to our team her curiosity, wit, and drive to transform our education systems into engines of equity.

We are excited to see how Rita shapes our team and our work. And we are certain that when you get the chance, you will enjoy partnership with Rita as well. Her email is if you want to get in touch.

And, read on for a welcome note from Rita herself!

Organization Updates

Another big piece of news is that Gene Wilhoit and Linda Pittenger have shifted from staff roles to board roles at C!E. Each member of our team has directly benefited from the leadership, mentorship, intellectual provocation, and friendship that Gene and Linda have always given so freely. Finding ourselves on this team with these two felt like a golden ticket moment for each of us, and it is bittersweet that we have come to cash in those golden tickets and together take over the day-to-day operations of the spectacular chocolate factory that Gene and Linda built. As you might imagine, even in “retirement” they both continue to be invaluable members of our team. They remain connected and dedicated to our work, in fact, you may be fortunate enough to find them on a zoom with us from time to time.

As we managed their transition to the board, we also took our time rethinking roles, and we continue to collaborate in new ways as a team. You can see some of our new titles on our website. As the Managing Partner, I have formal organizational leadership responsibility, but you will notice that we are each partners. This does not connote that we are a consulting firm with partner as a rank title, for us partner with its most basic connotation best describes how we relate to one another. We are partners with one another and with each of you in this big endeavor of transforming our systems of education. We have an unusually powerful combination of expertise in this small team, but we also count on learning from one another and each of you in each of our interactions. Our website is because in all that we do, we begin with curiosity.

And finally, we changed fiscal sponsorship. As many of you know, we were initially housed as a center at the University of Kentucky. As our work diversified, we found that there were kinds of work and types of partnerships that were difficult for the university to manage with us. To continue to be mission driven, cost effective and nimble, we needed to find a new organizational home. We landed at the Tides Center. For those who are unfamiliar, they are a non-profit that hosts smaller non-profit projects. While this transition took significant time and attention, we are now comfortable at our new home and happy to operate in a little more streamlined busines environment. Despite Tides offices being on both coasts, rest assured, Kentucky is still home for C!E. We continue to return there for staff gatherings and board meetings, and when we are able we will likely host some future face to face convenings with you there too.

In closing…

Thanks for reading our update, and more so, thanks for being our partner. One of the things Gene and Linda always imagined was that C!E would stay small because doing work in partnership is essential to doing good and lasting work. In this unprecedented time of turmoil, challenge and opportunity, our continued partnerships with you give us courage and strength and fill will us with gratitude. Thank you for being strategic partners with us.

Gretchen & the C!E Team

PS – you can always email me at For general inquiries you can also email We check the general email daily.


Getting to know Rita Harvey

We asked Rita to share a little bit about herself, what draws her to C!E, what gifts she’s excited to bring to the work, and what she’s most looking forward to learning with us. Read on!

“Doing education work through a lens of antiracism and justice is a familial inheritance for me. While the foundation was always there, my work started when my Aunt Rosie allowed me to me to engage in service-learning in her elementary self-contained special education classroom. My “service” included engaging in basic literacy activities with this group of children, but it was my own learning that was invaluable. Working under the guidance of Aunt Rosie, at the age of 16, I learned first-hand that all children have gifts and brilliance they bring to the classroom, and it is the work of educators to love every child enough to see those gifts. Over years of practice and study in special education/disability studies, assessment literacy, and critical race studies, I have come to understand that individual educators such as Aunt Rosie work in systems. We must work on both the systems and the individuals to transform education so that the gifts and brilliance of every child can truly be appreciated.

Seeing this passion for equity and justice being pursued by compassionate and thoughtful human beings has drawn me to the C!E team, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to do this work with both the smaller team and the larger community. In this next chapter of work, I hope to always bring a deeply empathetic and analytic approach the work in which we engage together. While I will bring this approach along with the technical knowledge I have acquired over the years, I am most excited about what I will learn from the C!E team and our partners. I am excited to continue learning how educators and communities are disrupting deep-rooted patterns of inequity. In learning about your communities, your mechanisms of disruption, your ways of loving children and fellow educators, I am hopeful we can continue to reimagine and rebuild educational systems.”

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