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Solving these problems could be a key step to boosting innovation


Education has 99 problems, but the desire to solve those problems isn’t one. But because we can’t cover 99 problems in one story, we’ll focus on seven, which the League of Innovative Schools identified as critical to educational innovation.

While these aren’t the only challenges that education faces today, these seven problems are often identified as roadblocks that prevent schools and districts from embracing innovation.

Problem No. 1: There exist a handful of obstacles that prevent a more competency-based education system

(Next page: Problems and solutions)

Today’s education system includes ingrained practices, including policy and decades-old methods, that prevent schools from moving to competency-based models.

Solutions to this problem include:

  • Creating and making available educational resources on competency-based learning. These resources might be best practices, rubrics or tools, or research.
  • Convening a coalition of League of Innovative Schools districts that are working to build successful competency-based models.
  • Creating a technical solution for flexible tracking of competencies and credits.

Problem No. 2: Leadership doesn’t always support second-order change, and those in potential leadership roles, such as teachers and librarians, aren’t always empowered to help effect change.

Solutions to this problem include:

  • Promoting League of Innovative Schools efforts to enable second-order change leadership
  • Creating a framework, to be used in professional development, that would target and explain second-order change leadership discussions
  • Schedule panel discussions about second-order change leadership

Problem No. 3: Communities and cultures are resistant to change, including technology-based change

Solutions to this problem include:

  • Identifying new and engaging ways to share cutting-edge and tech-savvy best practices with school and district stakeholders and community members
  • Involve business leaders in technology-rich schools and create school-business partnerships
  • Look to influential organizations to spearhead national ed-tech awareness campaigns

Problem No. 4: Education budgets aren’t always flexible enough to support the cost, sustainability, or scalability of innovations

Solutions to this problem include:

  • Build relationships with local businesses and career academies, and create incentives for companies to hire students, in order to create a revenue stream for schools
  • Look to competitive pricing and creative solutions
  • Leaders must not be afraid to take risks and support the changes needed to bring about this kind of budgeting

Problem No. 5: Professional development in the U.S. is stale and outdated

Solutions to this problem include:

  • Identifying best practices from other industries or sectors, and learn more about adult learning
  • Create a community for teachers to access immediate help
  • Personalize professional development
  • Create and strengthen K-12 and higher education partnerships
  • Create alternative modes of certification and reward forward-thinking practices

Problem No. 6: School districts do not have evidence-based processes to evaluate, select, and monitor digital content inclusive of aligned formative assessments

Solutions to this problem include:

  • Creating a marketplace or database to help educators identify and evaluate, as well as take ownership of, digital content
  • Involve students in digital content evaluation
  • Identify schools or districts to test digital content evaluation and storage systems

Problem No. 7: Current and traditional instructional methods leave students less engaged and less inclined to take ownership of their learning

Solutions to this problem include:

  • Creating working groups, within education organizations, with the aim of advancing authentic student learning
  • Leverage the internet to create online tools and resources that offer innovative teaching strategies to help engage students
  • Help teachers understand and practice authentic teaching and learning to help students master skills and standards

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Laura Ascione

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