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International innovation analysis reveals top countries’ practices

US-innovationMeasuring innovation is critical to effecting change and improvement in education–and in fact, knowing how practices impact education on an international scale could improve education across the globe, according to a new report that seeks to measure educational innovation.

The OECD report, Measuring Innovation in Education, compares educational innovation to innovation in other sectors, pinpoints specific examples of educational innovation, and also examines how changes in educational outcomes are related to educational innovation.

Why measure innovation? Part of it has to do with a recent push for what the report called the “innovation imperative” that is spreading through the public sector and public services in an attempt to boost economic performance and prosperity.

(Next page: Key findings, and why innovation matters)

Innovation in education matters for four distinct reasons, according to the report:

  1. Educational innovations can improve learning outcomes
  2. In most countries, education is viewed as a means to enhance equity and equality
  3. Innovation is seen as a way to make educational services more efficient
  4. As societies and national economies change, so, too, should education, in order to remain relevant

Key overall findings include:

  • Innovative educational practices, such as personalized instruction and linking lessons to real-world examples, have increased in all countries
  • Special education, professional learning networks, and stakeholder relationships all have experienced innovations and advancements
  • Countries that have greater innovation levels tend to see increases in some education outcomes, such as improved 8th grade math performance and more equitable learning outcomes

When compared on a “composite innovation index,” top innovating countries–those that have seen the most innovation in primary and secondary classroom and school levels, include:

  1. Denmark (37 points)
  2. Indonesia (36 points)
  3. Korea (32 points)
  4. The Netherlands (30 points)

The least innovative countries include:

  1. The United States (17 points)
  2. New Zealand (17 points)
  3. Austria (16 points)
  4. The Czech Republic (15 points)

The OECD average is 22 points.

The top five pedagogical innovations in the U.S. include:

1. More observation and description in secondary school science lessons
2. More individualized reading instruction in primary school classrooms
3. More use of answer explanation in primary mathematics
4. More relating of primary school lessons to everyday life
5. More text interpretation in primary lessons

Other countries differed in their top innovations. For instance, in the Netherlands, the top five pedagogical innovations are:
1. More use of textbooks as primary resources in primary school reading
2. More use of explanation in primary and secondary science lessons
3. More internet availability in primary science classrooms
4. More use of computers in primary science classrooms
5. More use of computers in primary school reading lessons

The publication itself is vast, at more than 300 pages online, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of the report’s potential for informing educators and policymakers. This story offers a small look at the innovation practices and policies discussed in the report.

Have you read the report? How do you think the U.S. stacks up? What innovation practices do you think are particularly promising, either in the U.S. or in other countries? Leave your thoughts in our comments section below.

Access the entire report and its resources, including country profiles and innovations, here.

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Laura Ascione

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