In Search of EduProductivity

Almost every state has been slashing budgets trying to balance expenses with shrinking revenues.  A few governors have asked for creative ways to stretch education funding while improving learning and operating productivity.  Here’s a few ideas:
Promote blended learning

  1. Require all students to take at least one online course each year of high school and negotiate a 10-20% discount with multiple online providers and give students/schools options.
  2. Provide statewide access to multiple online learning providers and reimburse at 80% of traditional schools (with performance incentives for serving challenging populations).
  3. Encourage K-8 schools to adopt a Rocketship-style schedule with 25% of student time in a computer learning lab and a tiered staffing model that makes long day/year affordable.  A loan program to upgrade to a 1:3 computer ratio would support adoption of a blended model could be repaid out of savings.


  1. Promote three year high school plan with accelerated credit accumulation and free summer school.
  2. Promote dual enrollment (if higher ed subsidy for dual enrollment is less than public subsidy for community colleges)

Significant budget changes at the state level

  1. UK-style budget reform that drives budgets to school level and reduces the role of the LEA
  2. Consolidate small low performing districts
  3. Negotiate pension reform

Facilities efficiency

  1. Provide framework/incentives for private REITs to purchase public school facilities (and provide waiver for use of proceeds to include capex to improve instructional programs).  Purchases would target:
    1. Schools in need of major remodels
    2. Schools in need of energy efficiency investment
    3. Surplus property
  2. Provide higher state match for facilities designed to support double shifted and blended models with lower cost structures

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Matthew Ladner

Mr. Vander Ark-
There is a charter school in Yuma Arizona you would be very interested to visit. It has gone further than the Rocket Ship model in integrating technology into instruction, and shows extremely encouraging student learning gains. Some of the grades score at the 98th percentile on math and the school has the largest student learning gains in Arizona:

Tom Vander Ark

Comment from John Watson, Evergreen Consulting (Keeping Pace)
Alabama is the only other state with an online learning requirement. The Alabama requirement was created by the state board of education, not by legislation. Note that some other states (e.g. New Mexico) have requirements that can be met by an online class, but they can also be met in other ways so they are not the same as MI and AL.
Also note that the MI requirement is a graduation requirement, so it's one online learning experience for the student overall, not one per year.
The Florida examples [promote online learning and reimburse on attendance & completion] are, in my view, more important than the online learning requirements in terms of their potential to transform education.

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