Looking ahead to 2021

January 22, 2021

In late January/early February, Saga will begin our pilot of three new adaptive practice platforms with 1,000 students across Saga’s current partner cities.  Saga hired an Instructional Technology Manager over the summer to research various online math platforms and conduct a full analysis of viable options by the early winter. Part of this process included focus groups with students, tutors, and site directors. Students participating in the pilot will continue to attend Saga’s program, but will test one of three platforms—Math Space, MathYa, and Knowre Math— in search of alternatives to the ALEKS and Khan Academy platforms we currently use. Saga will train tutors at pilot sites on the platforms in January, with programs officially launching in February.  Each city will have a pilot group and an identified comparison group and Saga has integrated multiple touchpoints for students, tutors, and Site Directors to provide feedback on the platforms. There was an extraordinarily high response rate of Saga teams interested in participating in the pilot, which will provide Saga’s Programs, Products, and Information Systems teams with an abundance of participant and practitioner data. Additionally, findings from this pilot will help inform the development of a Saga-tailored adaptive practice by our Products Team.

As Saga expands, we are constantly looking for ways to improve not only our programs, but the internal infrastructure that creates and implements those programs. On that front, Saga is currently building out the vision for a strategy branch of our national team. This team will be charged with soliciting supporters, clients, and financers of a Saga consulting unit. As part of this work, Saga will explore working with districts as consultants for rigorous tutoring programs. The first project in this exploration will launch in Providence, RI in February 2021. The district has hired its own school site director, and seven tutors, who will deliver tutoring as City Year members. From February through June 2021, Saga staff will assist in program design, administer Site Director and tutor training, provide the team with curriculum and our online math tutoring platform, offer some site observations and team coaching, and perform some data analysis.

Saga’s President, Chief Operating Officer, and Senior Director of Talent see this project as a strategic opportunity.  As a condition of this contract, Saga has asked the district to decide—not later than the end of March—if it wants Saga to run a full program in the ‘21-’22 school year. Over the course of the five-month program, Saga staff will get to know the tutors and Site Director, which presents a potential pipeline for sourcing future Saga talent.  Lastly, Saga leaders see this program as a critical foray into consulting or direct services for districts under state receivership. Since Providence is currently under the national spotlight, there is an opportunity for Saga to become better known. Saga’s President and Chief Operating Officer have consulted for Saga in the Netherlands and in Pittsburgh and are excited to inform organizational insights of how to shape and grow our consulting practice.