April 12, 2016

How to Accelerate Progress

By Transcend

Board Member Bror Saxberg’s response to the publication of Dissatisfied Yet Optimistic, emphasizing the importance of evidence-based insights about learning and serious investment in R&D in new school models.

Stacey Childress, Aylon Samouha, Diane Tavenner, and Jeff Wetzler have just released a call to action for innovative school design that is worth a look. Among other compelling points, they make the case that we just aren’t investing deeply enough or long enough in the up-front R&D process to build out truly innovative, technology-enhanced, learning-science-enabled new approaches to student learning and development.

All four are veterans of innovative school investments and practices in a wide array of settings, from foundation-land, to philanthropic venture funds, to innovative teacher models, to consulting on innovative redesigns with already-high-performing charter networks, to actually setting up and running innovative models.

Yet a key point they make out of all this innovative experience is that we are not investing enough in the earliest stages of innovation to get to our goals. It’s not only a matter of raw cash (although that’s part of it). It’s just not enough any more to have a few great, motivated, educators come together and create their own personal vision of a school and run with it. That can work out “fine,” as they put it, but it is going to be rare that such models systematically incorporate insights from across a wide array of disciplines to push repeated longer-term student success at scale.


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