The industrial education model was massively successful at first, with high school graduation rates and student achievement increasing decade after decade. However, by the end of the 20th century, it was evident that the industrial education model had hit its limit, with graduation rates plateauing at 80 percent and student achievement and engagement plummeting the longer students were in school.

According to Dr. Devin Vodicka, chief impact officer at AltSchool, in a recent edWebinar, reform after reform and many well-intended efforts have tried—and failed–to make all students successful. Vodicka, along with Erik Burmeister, superintendent, and Theresa Fox, coordinator of technology and innovation, both from Menlo Park City School District (CA), noted that if 80 percent of students are graduating, then 20 percent of students are not graduating–educational professionals can’t remain satisfied with these statistics.

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The Zone of Innovation

Menlo Park City School District (MPCSD) took a deep dive into the challenge of improving graduation rates and student engagement. The district’s approach to this challenge began with the development of an all-encompassing method called the Zone of Innovation. This Zone of Innovation focused on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are critical for learners to develop, thrive, and transform in the 21st century.

About the Author:

Eileen Belastock, CETL is the Director of Academic Technology for Mount Greylock RSD in Williamstown, MA, and also works with edWeb.net to write articles on their professional learning edWebinars. You can follow Eileen on Twitter @EileenBelastock.


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