How the Federal Government Can Promote Innovation
The fourth in a five-part series
The Obama administration’s Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation programs have received tremendous attention for their efforts to prod states into innovative approaches to school reform. These programs from the current administration are not, however, the first federal programs directed at educational innovation. Earlier efforts of previous administrations included the creation of Project Follow Through, New American Schools, the National Science Foundation’s education and human resources directorate, the U.S. Department of Education’s office of educational research and improvement, and the department’s office of innovation and improvement.
The key question for federal policymakers is how to promote and sustain effective innovations and how to bring them to scale to generate systemic improvement. As federal policymakers attempt this, they face a compliance conundrum: A lack of program specificity and oversight can undermine the impact of federal efforts to force change, but too much specificity and oversight can lead to compliance-driven behavior that undermines the idiosyncratic insights and individual convictions that spark innovation. In thinking about the best orientation for the federal government regarding innovation, it is useful to recognize that innovation at the state, district, and school levels depends on various capacities: political, financial, organizational, and technical. As a result of these different capacity needs, the federal government may take a...
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- Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
- Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke, VA
- Amargosa Valley Elementary School, Amargosa Valley, NV
- The Berkeley Institute, HAMILTON, Bermuda
- Christ the King Preparatory School, NJ
- Regional Area Partner
- Focus EduVation, US