What Is the CLF?

The Coherence Lab Fellowship (CLF) is an experience, organized in rapid-cycle bursts of learning, practice, and reflection that focus on building integrated state reform strategies to improve support for educators and outcomes for students. In order to achieve coherence by specifically addressing the drivers of fragmentation, system leaders must build focus and coordination within and across agencies, consistently engage educators in design to ensure a shared sense of purpose, and change behaviors at scale throughout all levels of the organization. The Coherence Lab Fellowship is designed to support teams as they develop new skills, apply tools and reflect on their work.

Through the experience, fellows build coherence within their own agencies and across their states and have the opportunity to build a network with other SEAs and LEAs that will help sustain continuous improvement efforts over time. The fellowship also emphasizes the centrality of teachers’ and administrators’ expertise in change efforts and their vital role in any attempt at stronger integration. It is ultimately educators—not policy makers nor SEA and LEA leaders—who deliver on the promise of new reforms. SEA and LEA leaders can, we believe, develop the knowledge and skills to ensure that teachers and principals deliver on that promise.

Coherence Lab Fellows are selected through a rigorous process and comprised of teams of state, district and school leaders who will build a cohesive community to catalyze and sustain continuous improvement over time. As part of the Fellowship, state teams will identify a problem of practice that will allow them to explore and address challenges with coherence and integration within the SEA (across divisions) and between the SEA and LEAs.

The Fellowship has four objectives:

  • Equip SEA and LEA leaders with the mindsets, skills, tools, and processes to address systemic barriers to coherence.
  • Deepen trust and partnerships between and among LEA and SEA Fellows so that LEAs have a meaningful voice in SEA decision making and so that SEAs understand how and when to co-design and engage LEAs and other stakeholders in decision making.
  • Build a peer network of SEA and LEA leaders committed to growing their professional practice to support and sustain coherence during and beyond the Fellowship.
  • Enable sustained change beyond and in addition to the cohort experience by sharing tools with SEAs and LEAs not currently participating in the Fellowship.

The Fellowship lasts 18 months, organized in rapid-cycle burst of learning, application, reflection and continuous improvement in both in-person and virtual settings.

History of the Fellowship

The Coherence Lab Fellowship is an initiative formed from a design challenge led by the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s (CCNY). In 2016, CCNY sought out leading innovators in the field to design new approaches that could bring greater focus, and develop targeted solutions to improve the fragmented nature of our education system. Eight organizations applied innovative, yet practical and testable approaches that identified barriers to cohesion, collaboration and communication, then proposed breakthrough approaches to overcoming those barriers. From this initial design challenge, CCNY identified a subset of these approaches to further develop, field test, and refine—this subset became the Integration Design Consortium. In 2017, the Aspen Institute Education and Society Program and Education First continued development of its proposed approach: The Coherence Lab Fellowship. Throughout 2018, Education First continued to participate in the Consortium, which now operates as a working group of five organizations—Education First, 2Revolutions, Bellwether Education Partners, FSG and IDEO’s Teacher’s Guild—that shares the progress of their field tests, provides and receives feedback, and deepens their understanding of the barriers and solutions to coherence.