Embrace Innovation and Avoid School System Failure

Embrace Innovation and Avoid School System Failure

A report from The Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia (UVA-PLE), “Exploring New Frontiers for K-12 Systems Transformation,” identifies four key areas of focus needed for change and innovation in K-12 educational systems, according to an article in eSchool News:

  • Innovative Secondary Models – a commitment to changing the secondary model to enhance student pathways and ensure access to opportunities for every student, along with a district and system recognition that investments in education are investments in the future economy;
  • Far-Reaching Academic Acceleration – a focus on accelerating student learning post-pandemic instead of on learning recovery;
  • Creative Staffing – new and innovative pathways to recruit, train and invest in teachers and matching education talent pipelines with student needs;
  • Equitable Resource Reallocation – rethinking organizational design and resource allocated to align with priority breakthroughs, student needs, and a deep commitment to eradicating gaps and inequality.

A sampling of the replicable school innovation practices highlighted in the report include:

  • Baltimore Public Schools: Under Superintendent Dr. Sonja Santelises’s leadership, her team in Baltimore made investments in high dosage tutoring and expanded internal summer learning which helped more than 400 additional students graduate during 2022;
  • Ector County (Texas): Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri and his district team championed innovative efforts to confront a near 20 percent teacher vacancy rate which raised teacher pay by more than $13,000 and raised the bar on qualifications for principal and teacher leader roles;
  • Dallas Independent School District: Former Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa’s team’s focus on establishing career pathways, an effort which resulted in 1,100 students – nearly 12 percent of the graduating senior class – graduating in 2021-2022 from high school having already earned an associate degree; and
  • Laramie County School District One (Wyoming): Superintendent Margaret Crespo and her team’s efforts to make post-secondary readiness programs more flexible and more accessible to the district’s high schoolers resulted in a 300% enrollment increase in college level and dual enrollment courses.

“Innovation should spark success. The courageous superintendents and education leaders who are driving change are providing a pathway for better student outcomes and a foundation for more equitable opportunity,” said Amy Dujon, M.Ed., Director, DA Leadership Institute. “The UVA-PLE report offers an array of replicable practices from systems and districts of all sizes. While the systems that are spotlighted vary greatly, each leader is united in their laser-like focus on student achievement.”

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