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.


"What am I prepared to do to improve all facets of my school?" This is the driving question in Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times by Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in New Milford, New Jersey.


The local NPR station ran a great story by America Abroad Media (@America_Abroad) about how government helps and harms entrepreneurs (available on iTunes). Interest in job creation and the growth in the number of incubators makes this a timely topic.


Strong states and common expectations are fundamental to the future of K-12 education in America. New tools create the opportunity for new schools; standards and states are the framework for quality at scale.


"We believe there's been a lack of transformative innovation in K-12," according to Joel Rose, founder of nonprofit New Classrooms. His website proposes, "an alternate credible vision for what's possible in schools."


It was a visit to Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto that inspired Scott Ellis to "really dive into blended learning." The math class using Khan Academy also impressed 60 Minutes (here's a short video description). Scott had five important observations.


The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education commissioned the Brightlines team led by Sir Michael Barber to consider the future of education in Massachusetts. The New Opportunity to Lead is a comprehensive 120-page report that sets out an agenda for the next 20 years, beyond the Common Core and standards-based reform.


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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