Sputnik: Yikes and ‘Aww’ at Education Nation

Sputnik - Advancing Education through Innovation and Evidence

I just returned from an exciting couple of days at Education Nation, a “summit” put on by NBC News in New York. All the great and good were there: President Obama (by tape), Mitt Romney (in person), Colin Powell, Arne Duncan, Margaret Spellings, Jeb Bush, Chelsea Clinton, Randi Weingarten, Michelle Rhee, and many more.

The most heartening aspect of Education Nation was that it focused on what works, and what can be brought to scale. In the general media, if education gets reported at all, there are just two kinds of stories: Heartwarming local stories (Aww. . .) and large-scale disaster and political wrangling (Yikes!). Much of Education Nation followed this pattern, with speaker after speaker sharing dismal international comparisons or evoking the Chicago teacher’s strike (Yikes!) followed by examples of plucky schools beating the odds (Aww…). What was different, however, is that from time to time speakers tried to connect solving the Yikes! problems to evaluating and scaling up Aww… solutions. President Obama talked about scaling up proven programs, as did Arne Duncan. District of Columbia Superintendent Kaya Henderson and Intel CEO Craig Barrett, judges on a panel evaluating promising technology start-ups, spoke about the importance of evidence and plans for scale-up. Barrett said something like, “We know what to do. We just don’t know how to bring what works to scale.”

Continue reading this post at Ed Week.

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