A shared concern among professional educators seems to be how the tools emerging in the education marketplace will be implemented in classrooms. For example, how will districts evaluate the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? Will new technology be implemented reliably in the existing structure of schools? What administrative structures are needed to support the flexible and personalized strategies of blended learning?
I believe there is reason for concern.
These new tools are poised to land on systems whose policies and routines--the unifying structures of a system--are not aligned to the changes. As a practitioner, I have seen energetic staff with innovative plans struggle against the existing system. Each year, this mismatch results in millions of dollars spent on tools that are not fully implemented or that are incorrectly implemented. During a recent school visit, I noticed an elementary reading series--purchased last year--on a shelf in the teacher's lounge. It was still in the shrink wrap.
Current systems lack the policies and routines to guide the work that is now expected. Policies and routines for using multiple data sources to make decisions at the district, school, grade, classroom and individual student levels do not exist. Nor are there routines for using data to match instruction to student need (blended learning) or policies for the standardized use of a research based reading series or for monitoring student performance outcomes and making adjustments that align to the CCSS or for the efficient allocation of resources etc. etc.
Each school or district is struggling to develop a unifying system, usually while having to adhere to the policies of their current system. (The fixing an airplane while in flight analogy applies here.) Also, these pioneers tend to have other full-time jobs in addition to creating change. It doesn't bode well for sustainability.
I generally agree that solutions to problems are best when created by the individuals who have to implement them. Nonetheless, I feel that the goals of school reform would be furthered if a blueprint for a unifying system was available. Just as a blueprint for a house allows for the addition of details so would a unifying system blueprint for education allow for individualizing features.
It could save time and money.
Check out the testimonial videos that describe the Miller Guidance unifying system.