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What's Next in Education? A New Education System

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By: Amy Anderson

The Donnell-Kay Foundation is encouraged by many of the exciting opportunities growing for students across the nation. However, after decades of work to improve and expand educational opportunities for students in our state, we have come to the conclusion that change will continue to occur in pockets, and be largely incremental, if we are solely reliant on innovation occurring within the existing education system. While our foundation continues to support important work happening in current education systems, we are also committing a significant amount of our time and resources to create an entirely new education system in Colorado.

To enable this much-needed fresh start, the Donnell-Kay Foundation initiated ReSchool Colorado to design and implement a new statewide public education system that pushes the boundaries of current thought and practice to provide an exceptional education for students living in this century, not the 20th century for which our current system was largely designed.

To excel in today's highly technical world, students need an educational system that adapts quickly to the fluid expectations of society and enables schooling to transcend time and place to better fit the learner. Too many efforts to transform education fall short of this important step. As such, ReSchool will create one, aligned system that will ultimately offer a variety of opportunities for learners across all ages (early learning through the workforce). This means eliminating transitions that can be challenging to navigate in current systems between early childhood, K-12, postsecondary education, and the workforce.

ReSchool Colorado will start small and grow over time and operate in parallel with other systems serving students in our state. People will have the opportunity to enter the new system at various points: some may migrate from their current path; some may bundle opportunities that span across systems; others may start their education or career within it.

The good news is that when it comes to rethinking learning in this new system, we don't need to start this design process from scratch. There is a lot to learn from colleagues in the field tackling this very topic, such as: Knowledgworks, 2 Revolutions, Convergence, the Global Education Leaders' Program, the Innovation Lab Network, and the Next Gen collaboration between the Colorado Education Initiative & Colorado Department of Education .

What sets ReSchool Colorado apart from these other important efforts is our commitment to rethinking learning in a new system, as compared to trying to retrofit new learning into existing systems. Smart policies and a solid implementation plan will drive this effort.

If you were starting a system from scratch, how would you set it up? What would the governance structure look like? How would financing this public system work? And, how would you rethink metrics and accountability for a modern-day education system? We are tackling these topics--and more--on the road to designing this new system, which we hope will be on the way to implementation in 2016. We invite you to learn more and stay informed about our work.

The Smart Cities blog series catalogs innovations in learning in America's great cities. We're writing a book about what we're learning-- and you can help.

Amy Anderson is Senior Director at the Donnell-Kay Foundation (DK) and Director of ReSchool Colorado , a multi-year initiative launched by DK in 2013 to create an entirely new state public education system in Colorado where learning is re-imagined and students graduate equipped to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Prior to DK, Amy was Associate Commissioner at the Colorado Department of Education where she created and led the Division of Innovation, Choice, and Engagement.

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