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Synapses, Students, and Synergies: Applying the Science of Adolescent Learning to Policy and Practice

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During the next two school years, every state in the country must identify underperforming schools and create plans to support and improve them as required by the Every Student Succeeds Act, the nation’s main education law. Despite federal legislative requirements for schools and districts to implement “evidence-based” solutions to improve student outcomes, there is no assurance that they will use the science of adolescent learning (SAL) to guide this crucial decisionmaking.

This report reviews why adolescence is a critical period of development; examines why now is a moment of significant opportunity and challenge in education; and highlights how organizations, including All4Ed, are connecting SAL research to practice and policy. This work aims to ensure that SAL findings reach education leaders positioned to implement innovative and effective education practices and policies that align with SAL research. Through its well-established relationships with researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, All4Ed will serve as a broker to ensure SAL knowledge is adopted and implemented to benefit all learners.

This report also recommends steps for expediting this implementation to support the learning experience and performance of millions of historically underserved students during the next decade.

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