What’s Next for Innovative Schools?

For decades, the US has largely relied on a one-size-fits-all approach to schooling. After over three decades of reform and a growing body of research on the science of learning, we still have too many students attending static schools that rely on traditional modes of schooling to meet the needs of diverse learners. Students continue to advance—or not—after a fixed, but increasingly arbitrary, number of days and years. Teachers are not well-supported to deviate from uniform methods of instruction and assessment. We continue to see that our students aren’t prepared. It isn’t working.

Innovative school models can be part of the solution. But without a clear strategy in place, progress will be slower than what students deserve. While innovative school models and practices are taking hold across the U.S., the field lacks sufficient research, evidence and support to ensure high-quality implementation, widespread scaling and improved student success. Ensuring effective implementation and efforts to scale will require serious research, new technical solutions and strategy and policy assistance.

So what is next? In our new publication, we describe the desired state of innovative models, where we are now and how to make progress. We offer three specific recommendations:

  • Establish new systems, structures and opportunities to build stronger research capacity and skill sets to respond to practitioner needs and build the evidence base
  • Invest strategically in a small cohort of promising models to refine implementation and codify and spread best practice
  • Corral resources to build the evidence base about “what works” faster and with more rigor

We hope these insights will be useful to interested funders and the field in general. You can read the report here. Please share widely.

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