Leaders vs. Laggards

The Center for American Progress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Enterprise Institute recently joined forces and released Leaders and Laggards: A state-by-state report card on educational innovation. The report analyzes a variety of indicators from school management and finance systems, to HR practices (hiring, evaluation, performance pay, removal of ineffective teachers), the use of data, and the environment for state reform. The report doesn’t focus on under-performing schools, but our experience has shown that barriers, inefficiencies, or restrictions at the state and district levels are magnified in those persistently chronically under-performing schools.

Several places implementing a variety of reform efforts and piloting innovative programs are highlighted, but it’s clear that the majority of districts and states continue to work under restrictive policies and archaic practices. The report’s methodology, and the use of (and exclusion of other) indicators, has resulted in a bit of noise from various stakeholders. But, even with these cautions, the report forces us to ask the right questions.

We have the research and the data to show that many policies and practices aren’t showing results, and we have the Race to the Top and the Innovation Fund competitive grant programs to spur innovative growth — now the question is: will education leaders take the steps and gather the political courage to make the changes that are so urgently needed?

For more information, read EdWeek’s analysis of the report.

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