America is a country that has flourished based on innovation. The worlds of medicine, private industry, and nonprofits are now embracing innovation as a key to solving age-old problems. Unfortunately, the policy makers in education are creating an environment where leaders in the areas of greatest need—our cities—are being left behind.


By: Phyllis Lockett About a decade ago in Chicago, there were at least 27 communities, mostly concentrated on the south and west sides, where over 75 percent of the schools failed state standards. Since then, we've helped open 80 new schools and set the bar for citywide improvements to public education, but the truth is that the zip code you are born in in this city still can define your life's trajectory. If you are a kid growing up in one of these communities today, unless you are lucky enough to get into a magnet, selective enrollment, or charter school, ...


When it comes to education innovation, all cities are not created equal.


Imagine a map of what a learner needs to know, different ways to learn it, and a collection of their demonstrations of competence. You're probably picturing a blended learning environment for students. Instead, imagine that every teacher has access to their own professional map--reflecting common expectations differentiated by speciality, subject, level, and school type--that offers a clear description of what teachers should know and be able to do.


It can be a difficult challenge for teachers to meet students where they are and also teach grade-level mathematics. Negotiating that tension is the subject of this post, in which I'll offer some thoughts on striking smart balances in rotation models. I've also included thoughts from two mathematics teachers, Allyson ("Ryan") Redd of North Carolina and Peter Tang of Tennessee.


When Preston Smith and I started Rocketship almost 9 years ago, one of the things he really cared about was the relationship between teachers and parents. It had been incredibly important to his success as both a teacher and principal. Preston built an incredibly deep culture of parent engagement at Rocketship with home visits to every family, monthly community meetings, and volunteer time in every classroom.


About a week into my tenure as the director of the new Race to the Top program in 2009, I found myself enmeshed in policy conversations that were wholly unfamiliar to me. "I understand that you want to give states all this freedom to innovate," I was told, "but how are we going to prevent bad actors from doing harm?"


Across Reynoldsburg City School District (RCS), personalization of learning is increasingly achieved at the classroom and individual student level through the shift to blended learning. Blended learning requires a fundamental redesign of instructional and organizational models, transforming the core elements of teaching and learning--changing roles, structures, schedules, staffing, and core budgets.


It's testing season and lots of kids are taking multiple choice tests--more online than last year but lots of the same old item types. It's part of a 100 year old 'teach then test' cycle of assessment as a summative activity.


Most districts put "innovation" at the top of their agendas these days, but too few are innovating with a purpose. The Reynoldsburg City School District (RCS) is becoming an exemplar for how to unleash principals' and teachers' creativity in meaningful ways that are guided but not prescribed or limited by a central office agenda.


The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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