The Leaders and Laggards report is an important scorecard showing why, how, and where America is losing the education race.  We pride ourselves on innovation but this report suggests there isn’t much of that in education.

A bipartisan group of think tanks scored states on school management, finance, staffing, data, pipeline to postsecondary, technology, and state reform environment.  It’s a useful comparative scorecard for state leaders and policy makers.

Major findings suggest that the system is bureaucratic, finances are opaque, teacher evaluations have little to do with performance, and access to college level work is limited.

States like Washington that have been coasting on pride are outscored on most fronts by southern states like LA, FL, and the Carolina (in fact, most of the SREB states)

If you dig into the rubrics, this is really a system architecture and management scorecard more than an innovation scorecard—but execution is everything (at least for students in school today).  A real innovation scorecard would have looked at R&D spending and rates of innovation diffusion; the answer would have been little and slow.

Race to the Top and i3 will help where there’s state and district leadership.  But this scorecard suggests that most states have a long way to go.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


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