Only off-the-shelf solutions will address the root cause of what ails schools

While the media lamented the tragic results of students in the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – also known as the National Report Card – many have been all too willing to play the game of who is responsible, but few have sought innovative solutions to change the fundamental underlying reality: schools today were not built to maximize every student’s learning.

A few weeks earlier, a new report called “Out of the Box”, accompanied by an afternoon of virtual programming, sought to introduce a way to change this reality through the use of “innovative model providers” for us move away from the current paradigm. schooling and “supporting school communities in realizing their visions”.

The solutions commonly offered in the media to the challenges facing students revolve around things like tutoring, summer school, longer school hours and more days. While there is nothing wrong – and some things are good – with these solutions, what none of them do is reverse the fact that today’s schools have no were not designed to optimize learning. Their temporal nature means that they were actually designed to accommodate the failure of the majority.

Worse still, some of these ideas share the assumption that all students should simply have more of the same type of school experience that they have always had – school experience that also did not do what today’s society hui needs to do before the pandemic. because of the way it was designed. In other words, the schools we have are doing exactly what they were built to do, which is at odds with the society we live in today.

What if, instead of superimposing tutoring on today’s schools, we instead take the principles of effective high-dose tutoring and integrate them into the schools themselves?

Or, as the Out of the Box report puts it, “Imagine, for example, elementary classrooms that deeply integrate the science of reading, using phonics instruction to the extent appropriate for each student and using technology and l Artificial intelligence to support the building of required skills Vocabulary and content knowledge to access rigorous text In intermediate level mathematics, imagine sophisticated diagnostic assessments generating a personalized learning plan that adapts daily and allows each student to drive their own progress using a variety of learning modalities.…Science and social studies lessons could incorporate combinations of text, virtual reality, group discussion, and cross-curricular projects that go beyond beyond what an individual teacher could sustainably plan each day.

But the report goes on to point out that “just as an engine is of little value over a horse and buggy, realizing new possibilities requires fundamentally reinventing elements of existing paradigms in order to move on to something new and better.”

So how do we do this?

Readers of my new book, From reopening to reinventionknow that I pushed the importance of autonomy: arming a distinct group of educators with the ability to completely redesign how the school operates.

The writers of “Out of the Box” – Joel Rose, Jenee Henry Wood and Jeff Wetzler – agree, but go even further by clarifying what it likely means.

According to them, “the K-12 sector is not designed to organically enable this type of paradigm shift. School operators generally lack the design capability to fundamentally reinvent learning, particularly if that involves sophisticated uses of technology. Nor can individual teachers, who simply cannot be expected to design tomorrow’s classroom while managing today’s classroom.

This echoes my book, in that it argues that if there isn’t at least one person whose full-time job is to innovate, then it’s nobody’s job. Indeed, the day-to-day priorities of the organization will drain the energy from any effort to create something new and different. In other words, the urgent and immediate tasks in front of someone – even if they are not important in the long term – will almost always drown out the important but less urgent work of long-term transformation.

Few sectors ask their practitioners in the field to design next-generation breakthroughs. It wasn’t doctors, for example, who created COVID vaccines, or train operators who gave us planes. Some of these people may be part of the teams designing new innovations, but they are not expected to do so as part of their day-to-day work.

This requires a new research and development effort around the creation of innovative model providers who design new learning models for different subjects and classes by drawing on the talents of educators, technologists, researchers, etc.

According to “Out of the Box,” the learning models they create won’t just include a new curriculum. They should include instructional design, of which content and assessment are a part; an aligned set of instructional practices; an operational design that reinvents the way teachers do their work, the use of time and a physical design of the classroom; and a technology design that incorporates the use of tools to run the model.

Such an effort would be novel because it would provide a direction that the country’s educational research and development efforts lack, but also because it would require the country to commit to spending much more on research and development than it does it today.

And if schools sought solutions to specific problems from innovative model providers – organizations such as New Classrooms, Valor Collegiate, Gradient Learning and EL Education – they would further drive demand for research and development.

Schools seeking these innovative models will also look to autonomous entities that have been given the freedom to redesign the school – its purpose, its underlying experiences and use of time, and its systemic implications – to transform the school. and unleash student potential.

This would, finally, not only deal with the tragedy of the present, but transform schools to deal with the deeper travesty: that our schools, designed long ago for a different age, were not built to optimize learning or serving someone in particular well.

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