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America Rated Low on Education Innovation

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July 23, 2014

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America Rated Low on Education Innovation

The U.S. is ranked near the bottom in a new Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report measuring innovation in education. However, the U.S. is innovating in areas related to assessment and to key workplace skills.

This research analyzed hundreds of innovations at the classroom, institutional and agency levels across OECD nations and identified the top five innovations in each of two categories, pedagogic practices and organizational practices, between 2003 and 2011. The top 5 innovations in the U.S. related to organizational practices are clustered around assessment:

  1. More use of student assessments for monitoring school progress
  2. More use of student assessments for national and district benchmarking
  3. More use of student assessment data to inform parents of student progress
  4. More external evaluation of secondary school classrooms
  5. More service by parents on external school committees

U.S. innovations related to pedagogical practice emphasize students explaining their work and applying it to the real world:

  1. More observation and description in secondary school science lessons
  2. More individualized reading instruction in primary school classrooms
  3. More use of answer explanation in primary mathematics
  4. More relating of primary school lessons to everyday life
  5. More text interpretation in primary school lessons

Internationally, the report found that the education sector is reasonably innovative in comparison to other sectors, with more innovation evident in higher education than in lower levels of education. Innovation has been particularly prevalent globally in areas such as applying lessons to real-world problems, teaching higher order skills, data and text interpretation and individualized teaching. In addition, teachers have innovated by using assessments and support resources for instruction while institutions and agencies have innovated by focusing on special education, professional learning communities for teachers, partnerships with external stakeholders and evaluation.

As noted by the lead author in an interview for Education Week, innovation is not necessarily a sign of superiority; some nations that are rated as more innovative may be making extensive changes to dramatically improve their education systems.  

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