Each cohort convenes for two in-person sessions. The in-person sessions cover foundational issues in education policy: standards, assessments, accountability, school choice, and teachers and school leaders. Each three-day long session includes a variety of learning experiences and opportunities for Fellows to engage with each other and national leaders, including:

  • A Conversation with … : This type of learning session features a high-level policymaker or former policymaker who engages with Fellows on the broad policy issues and provides inspiration and framing for the discussions that follow. For example, at the first session for Cohort 1, Fellows were joined by former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to discuss accountability and standards.
  • Discussions: High energy sessions featuring 2-3 experts who probe Fellows’ thinking on the topic at-hand and provide additional knowledge building as needed.
  • Study Group Discussions: These sessions allow Fellows the opportunity to grapple more deeply with a topic. Groups of 3-4 Fellows engage in deep dive discussions, case study analysis, or examination of model policy, among other potential activities.
  • Strategy Breakouts:  These sessions feature former Governors and allow Fellows to consider the political and strategy implications of education issues in a more intimate setting.
  • Site Visits and Classroom Perspective: These visits and sessions provide Fellows with a chance to see various issues first-hand and expose them to the point of view of current practitioners. At the inaugural session, Cohort 1 Fellows visited two Memphis schools that are part of the Tennessee Achievement District.

In addition to the in-person sessions, Fellows are engaged throughout the year with monthly strategy calls. These hour-long calls are designed to provide Fellows with a summary of research and state policy considerations on topics not formally addressed at the in-person sessions. Each call is supplemented with suggested pre-reading and follow-up resources. Previous topics include early childhood education, third-grade reading, postsecondary education, and data systems.

In the months between the two-in person sessions, the Fellows director and members of the team travel to Fellows’ home states for personalized, one-day sessions. These in-state sessions allow Fellows to engage with key education leaders and stakeholders in their states and dive deeper into policy areas of interest.


Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
GE Foundation
The Broad Foundations
State Farm