States lacking in educational innovation – according to recent report

Yet again education takes a beating… a recent report “Leaders and Laggards” sponsored by  the Chamber of Commerce, the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market-oriented think tank, and the Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress provides an overview of the state of educational innovation across all states.  The report uses state data and existing and original research to assess states, based on seven indicators of innovation:  school management, finance, hiring and evaluation of teachers, removal of ineffective teachers, data, “pipeline to postsecondary” (or high school quality), and technology.  The intent of the report?  To identify key problem areas and define promising solutions.  In other words, constructive criticism designed to spur change and begin reform.   

Thomas J. Donohue, the president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sums up the overall conclusion, “We found only a faint pulse of innovation.”  Yikes.  Here is a quick summary… to review the full report, click here.  You’ll notice reference to several of Obama’s hot topics.

The good news…

  • Most states have charter schools.
  • Most states have alternative teacher certification programs.
  • Hawaii is singled out for its student-based funding system.  “While some districts have adopted student-based funding schemes, so far no state has emulated Hawaii’s effort to ensure that education dollars truly follow the child.”

The bad news…

  • The researchers had difficulty finding reliable data.
  • Bureaucracies impede quality schooling.  The very structure and culture of schools limit autonomy and innovation.
  • State finance systems inefficient, limiting the way schools can spend resources to impact instruction.  “In almost every state, education dollars do not follow students to the schools they attend according to their needs.”
  • The teacher pipeline fails to provide a diverse pool of high-quality educators. 
  • Teacher evaluation is not based on student performance, rather metrics such as training and years of experience.
  • It is difficult to remove poor-performing teachers.
  • States fail to conduct large-scale technology return-on-investment studies.  “While technology has the potential to reinvent education delivery, without information on outcomes states will not know whether their investment in technology is well spent.”
  • State data systems provide limited information on school operations and outcomes.
  • States fail to offer enough access to college-level coursework (i.e. dual-enrollment programs).
  • States lack a culture of education advocacy.

Here’s a quick snapshot of Hawaii’s grades by category:Hawaii grades





To check out Hawaii’s full assessment, click here.