Innovation + Autonomy = Results

I hope you had the chance to view last week’s video of a teacher-powered school. The 12 teachers in the Denver Math & Science Leadership Academy use collaborative planning time to meet with their peers, analyze data, and design instruction that meets student needs. They designed their school and have been running it since 2010. The school was created to attract and retain the most accomplished teachers in the field, and so far it is working. The school fields about 30 applications for each open position.

So what has really been described to date in this blog for 21st Century Education? It comes down to this:

Innovation + Autonomy = Results!

Here’s one way to make this work:

Personalized Learning (Innovation) PLUS

Teacher-powered schools (Autonomy) = RESULTS

Earlier we described examples of personalized learning—a key innovation that takes many forms. Are there results? Yes. The data is personal to the student. The teacher uses the data to coach the individual student. We’ve seen the results in the classroom of a suburban St. Paul teacher where his students, learning with edugaming he developed, significantly outperformed their peers in the same school. He found that personalized learning through edugaming helped students of all abilities.

We’ve seen the results in Venture Academy where the student “trailblazers” used technology with the help of their teacher “coaches” to follow their individual plans. Students progressed 1.5 years in math and 1.7 years in reading aggregated across the school in the first year it opened. This was on a longitudinal growth assessment tool called NWEA or Northwest Evaluation Association.

In both schools, teacher autonomy was key to results achieved from personalized learning. This combination is a powerful pathway to 21st century learning.

Are America’s teachers ready for this? Some are. Others are not. Thursday’s blogpost will offer a policy pathway for teachers to select the future they want.