KnowledgeWorks calls on federal government to encourage local education innovation

States and districts need more flexibility to establish systems that meet needs of today’s learners
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KnowledgeWorks today called on the federal government to encourage local innovation by empowering education leaders to create systems that evolve with the needs of today’s learners. These recommendations, which aim to inform reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reflect lessons learned by KnowledgeWorks as it partnered with hundreds of schools, districts and communities to bring innovative education reform to underperforming environments.

The publication, "Transforming to a World of Learning: A Federal Policy Agenda,” encourages federal policymakers to prioritize innovation, providing resources and flexibility to states, districts, and schools to support a world of learning that is customized, connected, amplified, relevant, and resilient.

The recommendations build on forecasts from KnowledgeWorks’ Organizational Learning and Innovation team, which helps education thought leaders and practitioners analyze drivers and trends to develop a new vision for learning.

Matt Williams, senior director of national advocacy and partnerships at KnowledgeWorks, called on policymakers in Washington to act urgently on comprehensive education reform.
“These recommendations reflect the type of systemic change our education system needs to keep pace with the demands of today’s workforce,” Williams said. “We have invested in these ideas at KnowledgeWorks,’ and we have celebrated dramatic results. Now we hope Washington helps bring them to scale, empowering educators and communities to replicate environments where every student in the United States participates in next-generation learning.”

 KnowledgeWorks’ recommendations include:

  • Turning Around Low Performing Schools – Invest in the replication of innovative high school models but give states and districts the flexibility to dedicate resources to schools in greatest need.
  • Reimagining the Role of Districts and Communities – Empower failing districts to create more efficient delivery systems by engaging community stakeholders, establishing shared data outcomes, and aligning cradle to career resources to support aggressive improvement in student performance.
  • Advancing Educational Technology – Reallocate existing resources to support digital learning initiatives including online and blended learning environments, social networking platforms for customized learning and professional development, and formative assessment technologies that drive instruction with real-time feedback.
  • Fostering Innovation – Replace existing state and local flexibility programs with a new innovation zone initiative that provides states with resources to implement a comprehensive strategy for raising student achievement in one or more regions of the state. Innovation zones would employ an aggressive school turnaround strategy, remove barriers to anytime, anywhere learning, and establish a force of skilled turnaround leaders and educators to implement reform initiatives.
  • Using Data to Drive Continuous Improvement – Increase interoperability of longitudinal data systems between states, districts, and community partners so every stakeholder has access to data on student performance. Encourage all grantees to demonstrate efficiency and continuous improvement of federal-funded initiatives.

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, a KnowledgeWorks board member, said, “It’s imperative that we equip our children with the skills they need not only to  succeed, but flourish, in an increasingly competitive, global economic environment.   As Washington considers reauthorization of ESEA, local education entities must be able to deliver learning that is relevant and engaging to students.”

KnowledgeWorks’ subsidiaries currently partner with more than 100 schools in 20 states to provide innovative learning opportunities that improve student performance and prepare graduates for success in college, careers, and beyond. These subsidiary organizations include EDWorks and the New Tech Network which pioneer innovative high schools in underperforming schools and Strive, which uses the Six Sigma business strategy to help communities realign services into an efficient delivery system that supports shared community outcomes. 

To learn more about KnowledgeWorks, its Organizational Learning and Innovation team, EDWorks,  New Tech Network or Strive, please visit www.knowledgeworks.org.

KnowledgeWorks is bringing the future of learning to America’s high schools and creating widespread, lasting change in the communities and states we serve. Our portfolio of high school approaches includes New Tech Network high schools, EDWorks high school redesign, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and Early College High Schools. KnowledgeWorks subsidiary Strive is a national initiative that works to build the cradle-to career-civic infrastructure in communities to identify, sustain and scale what works for kids.

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