Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative

At a Glance

Bridging the worlds of research, practice, and policy, we investigate student-centered approaches to improve outcomes for learners from all backgrounds.




Areas of Work
  • Ensuring Equity in Advancement
  • Preparing for the Future of Work
Experts Involved
In progress
  • CA
  • CT
  • GA
  • IN
  • ME
  • RI
  • MI
  • NH
  • OH
  • RI

The Latest

New Findings from the Research Collaborative!

In the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative's first cycle of funded research, our grantees looked at competency-based education, student agency, personalization, collaboration, and networked improvement communities.


This bold initiative began in 2016 with a core group of scholars, school leaders, policymakers, practitioners, and funders, each known for their impact and influence, coming together to clarify and catalyze the field. Their charge: to work in partnership to investigate and evaluate what we know about student-centered learning both in and beyond today’s schools, and then leverage that knowledge to affect meaningful change at scale.

By the Numbers


RESEARCH STUDIES investigate the impact of student-centered learning approaches and the extent to which student-centered learning practices can be used to advance equity in public education


ADVISORS are a small group of highly respected senior leaders, scholars, and educators who provide invaluable perspectives regarding the research questions being explored, the progress of the Collaborative, and the eventual deliverables it generates.


DISTINGUISHED FELLOWS bring a background of exceptional vision and impact on the student-centered learning movement in research, practice, and policy across the New England region.


FUNDING PARTNERS make our work possible.

Our Research

Toward an Empirically Grounded Understanding of Student-Centered Learning Implementation: Investigating Implementation and Outcomes

Education Development Center 

The Education Development Center is conducting a mixed-methods study in partnership with 10 Maine school districts. The aims of the study are to quantitatively characterize profiles of student-centered learning (SCL) implementation by leveraging student feedback survey data and investigate the relationship between implementation and student outcomes. We will focus specifically on how this relationship may differ according to student economic need and prior achievement. The qualitative component of the study will go deeper to situate quantitative findings within state, district, and school contexts for three participating districts. Quantitative results will inform the selection of sites for qualitative data collection. Study data will include responses on the Competency-Based Learning Survey for Students and student-level administrative data from all students in grades 9–12, along with data from interviews, focus groups, and document review in three districts. 

Funding provided by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Learning with Others: An Exploratory Study of Racial/Ethnic Differences in Experiences and Outcomes Associated with Collaboration in Student-Centered Classrooms

American Institutes for Research

Research indicates that collaboration may be a particularly important feature of student-centered learning for meeting the needs of traditionally underserved students, yet racial/ethnic differences in students’ experiences of collaboration are an aspect of personalized learning that is often overlooked. The American Institutes for Research (AIR) Learning With Others study examines the role that collaboration plays in the personalization of learning within student-centered classrooms and associated outcomes for Grade 9–12 students from varying racial/ethnic backgrounds, particularly those who identify as Black. This study will address three questions: (1) How are students’ experiences of collaboration related to student outcomes? (2) To what extent do opportunities for collaboration, classroom experiences, and outcomes, as well as relationships between among factors, differ by race and ethnicity? (3) What contextual, school-level factors do teachers identify as helping or hindering their ability to provide opportunities for collaboration in diverse student-centered classrooms? To address our research questions, we will collect in-depth student-, teacher-, and classroom-level data from four to six student-centered high schools that employ personalized learning approaches, offer regular opportunities for collaboration, and serve a racially diverse population of students, including at least 25% students who identify as Black.

Funding provided by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation

Implementing and Measuring the Effects of Student-Centered Learning Practices Via a Networked Improvement Community 

American Institutes for Research 

AIR and New Tech Network are partnering to study teacher practices that support the development of student agency. Four New Tech Network schools will participate in a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) to design, test, and revise these teacher practices. The goal of the NIC will be to develop a menu of effective teaching practices that promote key elements of student agency, such as self-efficacy, self-regulated learning, and persistence. This project will also examine how measures of student agency are related to students’ academic outcomes and whether these relationships are similar across students from different racial/ethnic backgrounds. 

Co-funding provided by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and Overdeck Family Foundation

“I’m Just Not a Math Person”: Student-Centered Approaches to Improving Mathematical Agency 

High Tech High Graduate School of Education 

The High Tech High K–12 schools and the High Tech High Graduate School of Education have partnered with middle and high schools from four districts across the County of San Diego to improve student agency and learning outcomes in math—particularly for students from traditionally marginalized groups. This community will use improvement science as a framework for testing, refining, and spreading “high-leverage” practices that reframe mathematical struggle as learning, engage students in collaborative problem-solving, shift mathematical discourse to be more student centered, make mathematical thinking visible, and develop student-led assessment structures that promote a growth mindset. 

Co-funding provided by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and Overdeck Family Foundation 

Robust and Equitable Measures to Identify Quality Schools 

Urban Institute 

On behalf of JFF, the Urban Institute is conducting a feasibility study designed to move beyond traditional test-score measures to build an authentic definition of quality comprehensive public high schools that are serving high-needs student populations. The project intends to investigate if it would be possible to identify quality schools at a multi-state or national level based on a range of meaningful measures using currently available data. The feasibility study is also investigating if it is possible—after identifying quality public schools based on robust and equitable results indicators—to locate specific policies, programs, practices, and/or other characteristics of the schools that promote those promising results. In this way, the project takes a reverse-engineering approach that first captures which schools are producing strong outcomes and then investigates within those schools how they achieve at that level, particularly with marginalized populations. This approach would require not only good outcome data but also good data about what happens in the school building. If current data sets and widely used instruments cannot support this approach, the project will determine what data infrastructure and research methods might be necessary to conduct this type of research in the future. 

Funding provided by: Barr Foundation


The Research Collaborative has sought out the advice and oversight of a small group of highly respected senior leaders, scholars, and educators to serve as Advisors. These advisors provide invaluable perspectives regarding the research questions being explored, the progress of the Collaborative, and the eventual deliverables it generates.