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Educational innovation in the United States: What we know and what we need to know


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This presentation was given by Jack Buckley at the Public Conference “Innovation in education : What has changed in the classroom in the past decade?”.

Measuring innovation in education and understanding how it works is essential to improve the quality of the education sector. Monitoring systematically how pedagogical practices evolve would considerably increase the international education knowledge base. We need to examine whether, and how, practices are changing within classrooms and educational organisations and how students use learning resources. We should know much more about how teachers change their professional development practices, how schools change their ways to relate to parents, and, more generally, to what extent change and innovation are linked to better educational outcomes. This would help policy makers to better target interventions and resources, and get quick feedback on whether reforms do change educational practices as expected. This would enable us to better understand the role of innovation in education.

Published in: Education
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Educational innovation in the United States: What we know and what we need to know

  1. 1. Educational Innovation in the United States: What We Know and What We Need to Know Jack Buckley President and Chief Scientist, Imbellus Institute Fellow, American Institutes for Research OECD CERI Measuring Educational Innovation 2019
  2. 2. The U.S. Values Innovation in Public Discourse and Public Policy • “We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender.” -Barack Obama (2014) • Previous Administration focused on several innovative education policies including: • School Improvement Grant program ($4B) • Investing in Innovation—i3 (>$1.4B) • Present Administration has continued some initiatives (e.g. i3) and is also focused more on deregulation and market-based reforms
  3. 3. But Are We Really That Innovative Educationally? • The data in this report suggest no: • The U.S. is lower than the OECD average and has “experienced moderate-low innovation in their educational practices in the past decade.”
  4. 4. Only Area of Innovation is Mathematics Practices?
  5. 5. What Might Be Missing? • The OECD report focuses on educational “product” and also “business process” innovation. • Reasonable definition but may be missing other types of innovation such as in governance (e.g. privatization in primary and secondary) or labor market reforms. • The data sources (PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS databases) are generally valid, reliable, a representative but are only designed to capture certain types of innovation at the classroom and school levels and only primary and secondary • Missing innovations in key areas of education such as postsecondary course design and delivery and assessment at all levels.
  6. 6. Example: Innovation in Assessment • The U.S. invests over $1B annually in educational assessment across all levels and including summative, formative, statistical/descriptive, high-stakes, etc. • Significant investments in recent years include $350M via federal Race to the Top funding to develop next-generation of computer- based assessment, continued investment in innovation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), as well as significant investment in innovation by private sector. • Along with funding, changes in public policy designed to spur innovation (e.g. ESSA assessment flexibility pilot) to use assessment as part of broader, evidence-based decision making • Assessment is not only an area of active innovation, it is a necessary part of any infrastructure for evaluating other innovation and improvement initiatives—without better assessment, we won’t know what works.
  7. 7. The Next Wave of Innovation in Assessment: Measuring How Students Think, Not Just What They Know
  8. 8. Thank You