2. Summit Public Schools’ short-cycle innovation
Also at the iNACOL Symposium, Summit Public Schools’ Adam Carter and Vishal Shah presented a session on how the charter school network uses short-cycle research and user-centered design practices to improve its educational offerings. According to Carter and Shah, this research process involves identifying a problem to solve, studying academic literature related to that problem, developing detailed and context-specific descriptions of the problem, prototyping solutions, seeking focused feedback, revising solutions, testing solutions, and then scaling and automating solutions that prove successful. By adopting this process Summit avoids the trap of becoming content with mere marginal improvements and sets itself on a trajectory toward dramatically improving how it serves students. For this reason, Summit is one of the leading examples of a school system that is tackling the work of continuous improvement.
3. Bellwether’s recommendations for teacher prep
Recently, Bellwether Education Partners’ published a paper on improving teacher preparation programs that holds many valuable lessons for blended learning. The authors describe how most efforts to improve teacher preparation to date focus either on specifying and regulating the theoretical inputs of quality teacher preparation programs, or holding programs accountable for their outcomes; but neither approach has produced clear evidence on how to improve the quality of teacher preparation programs.
Instead, they recommend that teacher preparation programs and policymakers should work together to implement rapid-cycle evaluations (RCEs) that can uncover what aspects of different programs work, for which students, under what circumstances. Bellwether’s recommendations for adopting rapid-cycle evaluations for teacher preparation programs are equally valuable for blended-learning programs. Schools interested in using rapid-cycle evaluation to test the efficacy of blended-learning technologies and programs should look into the U.S. DOE’s new Ed Tech RCE coach. (Side note: My blog post last week gave recommendations for states as they implement the U.S. DOE’s new teacher preparation rules. After reading the Bellweather report, I think the success of many of my recommendations will be predicated on adoption of the recommendations described by Bellwether.)
In order to make progress in improving how they serve students by encouraging education innovation, schools need to give more consideration to developing processes for measuring and testing the programs, models, and technologies they adopt. In my next post, I’ll discuss why these processes are critically important to the future success of blended learning.
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