The Stanford Accelerator for Learning invites proposals for Igniting Transformative Approaches to Ethnic Studies Teaching and Learning in preK-12 Learning Contexts.
Why Ethnic Studies?
When Assembly Bill 101 was signed in October of 2021, California became the first state to require all students to complete coursework in Ethnic Studies prior to graduating from high school. In signing the bill, Governor Newsom declared that students “must understand our nation’s full history if we expect them to one day build a more just society.” Currently two years away from the mandate that all high schools in California must begin offering Ethnic Studies courses by the 2025-26 school year, we are in a moment of potentially consequential transformation in schools across the state.
A Stanford study published in 2017 estimated the causal effects of an ethnic studies curriculum piloted in several San Francisco high schools and yielded surprisingly large effects. Several schools in the district assigned students with eighth-grade GPAs below a threshold to take an ethnic study course in ninth grade. Ninth-grade student attendance increased by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23. This may suggest that culturally relevant teaching, when implemented in a supportive, high-fidelity context, can provide effective support to at-risk students.
Though many schools have offered Ethnic Studies learning opportunities for years, AB101 marks a substantial shift across the state. From blasé compliance to political resistance, districts will respond to AB101 in vastly different ways that build upon the social, ideological, and historical precedents in school communities and contexts.
Call for Proposals
Recognizing that this moment signals an unprecedented opportunity for supporting new directions in school-based teaching and learning, the Stanford Accelerator for Learning seeks to fund research proposals that leverage partnerships with local community organizations and schools. This seed grant is intended to support exploratory projects, developing partnerships, and preliminary scholarship that are poised to make substantial impacts on how ethnic studies is taught and integrated into K-12 schooling across California.
Proposals for this grant should be collaborative in nature. Successful proposals will identify a particular Ethnic Studies-foci and a partnering organization, district, community group (or combination of these) that will coordinate efforts to support scholarly inquiry. For example, a Stanford researcher may work with a local youth organization and high school to develop and pilot a youth-driven approach to creating a community storytelling and oral history project related to Ethnic Studies curriculum. In addition, we particularly encourage proposals that foster cross-campus partnerships at Stanford.
Though Assembly Bill 101 envisions high school-focused models of Ethnic Studies implementation, proposals for this grant can speak to formal and informal learning opportunities across the K-12 spectrum. We will accept a wide-range of proposals that move beyond blanket, one-size-fits-all approaches to the impending Ethnic Studies mandate. Proposals may address:
- Design, implementation, or evaluation of context-specific curriculum based on cultural, historical, or geographic foci (e.g. curriculum tied to Hmong communities in the Bay Area; classroom exploration of agricultural histories of labor and ethnicity within the Salinas Valley)
- Cross-disciplinary exploration of Ethnic Studies engaged in varied subject areas (e.g. numeracy and data science intersections with Ethnic Studies; world literature as a window and mirror for local histories of race and ethnicity).
- Community-driven approaches to instruction and learning opportunities
- Focused scrutiny into theories of learning, assessment, teacher development, and educational policy that catalyze Ethnic Studies learning, teaching, and community uptake.
Further, given the broad perspectives and bodies of knowledge that (can) inform Ethnic Studies in school contexts, this RFP encourages Stanford researchers of all departments and schools to consider varied disciplinary approaches to improving and supporting a statewide mandate. With a focus on the opportunity here in California, proposals are requested to focus on immediate partnership development, piloting of novel interventions, and other forms of research that might meaningfully lead to transforming how young people learn about the world and their role within it.