the Learning Collective

The Learning Collective provides strategic planning and evaluation services for charter schools, charter management organizations, charter authorizers, traditional public schools, school districts, state departments of education and state boards of education.

About Us

Launched in 2003 and working in over 10 states, The Learning Collective’s clients past and present include Academy of the City, Bright Star Schools, CCCS independent study schools, Central Michigan University, Charter Schools Institute of the State University of New York, Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Innovation, Class Measures, College Board, Education Achievement Authority of Michigan, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, Indiana Charter School Board, Inglewood Unified School District, Jefferson Parrish Public School System, Ketchum, Kingsmead College, LA’s Promise, NACSA, Nevada Public Charter School Authority, New Jersey Department of Education, New York State Education Department, Oakland Unified School District, Parent Revolution, Pomona Unified School District, PUC, Scholarship Prep, SchoolWorks, Tiger Woods Learning Center, UCLA, Voices Academies, Washington State Charter School Commission, WISH Secondary and others.

Our Team

Adam Aberman

Adam Aberman

Founder, CEO

Adam is the CEO and Founder of The Learning Collective. Over the past 16 years, Adam has assessed over 200 current, and 100 proposed, charter schools nationally (California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Washington), including lead writer for charter renewal inspection visits, charged with evaluating the school and writing the report that is submitted to authorizers. During every school visit, Adam evaluates the effectiveness of charter schools on a wide range of issues. The range of issues includes schools’ use of assessment data, curricular development and alignment with the Common Core, instructional leadership and staff evaluations, classroom instruction, professional development, board governance, parental involvement and school finances. Adam has led teams of reviewers of charter school applications, submitting the finalized application reviews to boards of education. Adam has also worked with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and other organizations on evaluation and strategic planning projects regarding Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma and Ohio authorizers. Previously, Adam was the Director of Global Digital Strategy for Ashoka’s Youth Venture, which helps teams of youth internationally launch socially responsible businesses and organizations. Prior to Ashoka, Adam was the Executive Director and Founder (and currently Board Member Emeritus) of icouldbe.org, the non-profit Internet-based career mentoring program that has served over 25,000 teens and e-mentors nationwide. Before establishing icouldbe.org, Adam was a Regional Coordinator for the New York City Department of Education. Adam began his career in education as a Spanish bilingual public school teacher in Los Angeles. Adam received a B.A. from Vassar College and a Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. A frequent speaker at conferences, Adam has also won numerous awards including Cause Marketing Silver Halo Award for Best Use of Social Media (2009) and International Computerworld Magazine Honors Finalist Award (2002). Adam and his family are based in Los Angeles.

Nathaniel Calhoun

Nathaniel Calhoun

Nathaniel Calhoun helps guide Singularity University’s approach to changemaking and impact as a founding member of its Global Grand Challenge Faculty. He moderates Executive Programs for SU and is the Director of Global Grand Challenges for SU’s 10-week Global Solutions Program. Nathaniel closely tracks innovations in governance technologies, emerging decentralized and cooperative business models as well as the highly disruptive trend of platform cooperatives. He specializes in helping businesses and governments to understand how to leverage and prepare for the growth of these and related trends. Nathaniel is actively creating and implementing digital technologies at a global scale to help alleviate poverty and to drive business literacy and digital and financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia. He does this work through CODE Innovation, a consulting company he founded in 2007 to help development work organizations like UNICEF and DfID to use web and mobile technologies more effectively in their education programming. Code Innovation has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further develop their Self Help Group digital platform. Nathaniel has two decades of experience in the field of education, training, facilitation, moderation and teaching. Nathaniel is based in Bali.

Joshua Cook

Joshua Cook

Joshua is a Data Scientist specializing in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Data Pipelines and Infrastructure. Joshua taught high school mathematics in South Los Angeles for the better part of a decade. As Department Chair of Green Dot Public Schools' Animo Justice, Joshua built an Algebra I program targeted at English Language Learners. Following this, he taught graduate students earning their Masters of Education at UCLA. In 2012, Joshua returned to school to study computational mathematics and computer science. Since completing his second course of study, Joshua has developed geo-spatial predictive models for Inrix, written Deep Learning Image Recognition curriculum for Udacity, and designed infrastructure for Udacity's Self-Driving Car Nanodegree. In 2017, he returned to the classroom as the Data Science Immersive instructor at General Assembly in Los Angeles. At General Assembly, he is currently part of an online-inclass hybrid program, teaching graduate-level Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence curriculum simultaneously to students on multiple campuses across the West Coast. In 2017, Apress published his first book, Docker for Data Science, on using the open-source technology Docker to build scalable data pipelines. He is a highly-skilled Python programmer and SQL Database Administrator, but is also able to explain the complex work of the data scientist to the layperson and to train stakeholders in the use of complex systems. Joshua is based in Santa Monica, California.

Hillary Johnson, EdD

Hillary Johnson, EdD

Dr. Hillary Johnson is a committed educator who began her career in education over 20 years ago via Teach For America as a Spanish-bilingual and Reading Recovery teacher. Most recently, Hillary served as the Chief Academic Officer/Chief Learning Officer for Citizens of the World Charter Schools, a national network of intentionally diverse charter schools. As the founding CAO, she crafted a compelling and inspiring academic vision while strengthening the network’s capacity for organizational learning. Following the start-up phase, she founded the Chief Learning Officer role, with a focus on teaching for understanding, social emotional learning and cultivation of a learning organization. Hillary has assessed over 65 current and proposed schools nationally (in California, Louisiana, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania), including participating on many SUNY school visit renewal teams. She has evaluated the effectiveness of schools on issues including schools’ use of assessment data, curricular development and alignment, instructional leadership, classroom instruction, professional development, governance and parental involvement. Hillary earned her doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a member of its Urban Superintendents Program. Hillary is based in Los Angeles.

Amber Leage

Amber Leage

Amber Leage, M.Ed,. provides strategic planning, program development, and writing services to schools throughout the United States and abroad. She has been an educator for 14 years, serving in various roles including consultant, school leader, IB coordinator, school evaluator, literacy specialist, and teacher. She has served as an educator and instructional leader in inner-city public, charter, bilingual, private, and international schools. Her work includes leading professional development, school reviews, and facilitating school improvement in South America, Central America, and the Middle East. As a school leader her work led to three schools adopting the International Baccalaureate model, establishing a university partnership, and consulted schools in creating school improvement plans, adopting of a new mission, establishing data-informed instructional programs, project-based learning, Reader and Writer’s workshops and the Common Core. She graduated from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. She has earned a Masters in Educational Leadership from Concordia University, and holds both a teaching credential and administrative credential. Amber is based in Oakland, CA.

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY

Our Work

From the Blog

Charter Applications: 3 Improvements

The Learning Collective has evaluated over 100 charter school applications in states across the country. These are three areas in which many applicants need to improve:

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National and State Partners

In an attempt to improve charter school authorizing nationally, The Learning Collective has been increasingly partnering with national charter school authorizing support organizations like NACSA and a number of state-level authorizers including Central Michigan University, Idaho Public Charter School Commission, Indiana Charter School Board, New York State Education Department, SUNY Charter Schools Institute and the Washington State Charter School Commission. Through this work a few things have become apparent.

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Charter Visits: 3 Lessons Learned

Over the past 15+ years, we’ve conducted hundreds of charter school evaluation and renewal visits in over 10 states. We’ve learned a lot through this work. These are just three of our lessons learned:

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Strategic Planning with DCS

In 2018 and 2019, The Learning Collective partnered with Discovery Charter School (DCS) on a couple projects. We developed a three-year academic plan, beginning in the 2018-19 school year, and evaluated the extent to which that plan was implemented during the course of the plan’s first year. In the summer of 2019 we then worked with the board, school leaders and teachers to develop a multi-year strategic plan.

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What We Learned about Homeschools & Independent Study Schools

The Learning Collective recently evaluated four charter homeschool / independent study schools. It was interesting and illuminating work. The student body of homeschools varies greatly – from affluent suburban kids to world-class athletes to young people in and out of incarceration.

Here is some of what we at The Learning Collective learned …

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Strategic Planning with AoC

The Learning Collective has partnered with Academy of the City on a number of projects over the past four years from charter renewal application assistance to school quality reviews. It is the strategic planning process we developed and facilitated, as well as the final product, of which we are the most proud.

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Technology Crash Landing

logo-singularityhub-blue31  Singularity University was started by some of Silicon Valley’s top companies – Google, Cisco and others – to teach individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs and governments how to leverage the newest technologies to benefit mankind.  Singularity published this article, written by Nathaniel Calhoun and based on an interview with Adam Aberman (both Members of The Learning Collective), on the failure of technology in public schools to build students’ critical thinking skills.

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