Planning, implementing, and evaluating innovative initiatives in schools and districts
Innovative districts have many groundbreaking ideas, from new models for curriculum, instruction, and teacher training, to reimagining the design of school schedules, learning spaces, and the way students progress through the system. But districts can face challenges ranging from getting stakeholders on board with new approaches, to implementing these changes on time and on budget, to evaluating the impact of new programs. Districts also strive make sure that new initiatives are based on evidence, and that they involve collaborative with community members. Explore the challenges related to Systems Change -- Change Management, School Redesign, Community & Public Relations, Data-Informed Decision-Making, and Student Pathways & Progression -- below.
Districts working to implement new initiatives often face obstacles related to change management – the people side of change. It can be challenging to get buy-in from school- and district-level leaders, teachers, and other staff on new programs and ways of working. How can districts meet resistant people where they are and support them through the transitions necessary for adopting needed changes?
Innovative school systems are experimenting with novel approaches to curriculum, instruction, teacher training, school schedules, and the design of learning spaces. But experimentation can be difficult in the context of bureaucratic operations. It can also be time-consuming, expensive, and risky to make changes, especially on the large scale required for impact. In this context, how can districts balance equity and innovation to ensure that new initiatives are positive for all?
Schools belong to the communities they serve and districts strive to build and earn community buy-in around initiatives and goals. But it can be challenging to communicate how stakeholders – including local businesses, service providers, and individual community members – can get involved, and to engage the community through feedback loops, partnership opportunities, and collaborative decision-making. How can schools build intentional community partnerships?
Districts strive to ensure that programs and initiatives are effective in their specific context with their particular population of students and teachers. They need evidence to validate decisions and to continuously assess and improve programs. But for districts with several innovative programs in place, it can be difficult to break apart the data to figure out which interventions are helping move the needle. How can districts effectively collect and analyze data in order to make timely evidence-based decisions?
Many districts are working at the systems-level to implement new competency-based progressions throughout K-12 schools to allow students to advance according to their mastery of subjects, as opposed to a linear progression through grade levels based on age. But it can be challenging to provide pathways for students beyond standard sequences of required courses. How can district implement new, student-centered ways for individual learners to advance through their education?