Four years ago, the Scarsdale Public Schools entered a partnership with a research team at Teachers College, Columbia University (TC), to explore what "world class" learning actually is. To investigate this question, our research team identified core capacities that are important in the 21st century and developed a research framework based on these capacities. Our interest in identifying global, exemplar student work led Scarsdale to hire consultants from Teachers College, Columbia University to arrange site visits to international schools that are acknowledged leaders in their countries. Scarsdale joined with these international partners to form the Global Learning Alliance (GLA).
The GLA brings together school leaders from high-performing, innovative schools around the world as well as scholars from top education universities to:
- Examine exemplary practices in teaching and learning collaboratively;
- Develop a common language around twenty-first century global capacities especially in relation to critical and creative thinking;
- Develop an understanding of what characterizes world-class assessment and student work.
The first GLA Summit, hosted in Singapore in 2012, brought together representatives from those schools and associated universities to consider the information/findings the researchers gathered and to gauge the level the interest to support a second GLA Summit, which subsequently took place in Scarsdale in 2014. At this event members provided an update of their work in fostering students' core capacities. Members also discussed developing a pilot assessment of students' ability to solve non-standard, complex, global problems in collaborative groups. The first such problem selected was "The Global Warming Challenge: Keeping global warming below 2°C." A review of the resulting global project was a highlight of the third GLA Summit and is reflective of its theme: Educating Students for a Global Tomorrow.
As a founding partner of GLA, our district is proud that the GLA has not only formed and coalesced over the past four years around common vision and work, but has broadened its membership and deepened its focus to include cross-border, performance-based assessment prototype. We see much promise in our future work together, and we are confident the global community of students has much to learn from our continued partnership.