What makes education innovation succeed?

September 17, 2019 | The Hechinger Report

What does it take to make educational innovation succeed? Schools are constantly trying new things to improve student outcomes. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they get a strong start, but too often they peter out.

Transcend, a nonprofit that advises educators in the process of transforming their schools, has been testing and refining what it takes to achieve sustainable change, and just published a list of the five conditions it believes are necessary for innovation to flourish: conviction, clarity, capacity, coalition and culture.

The 5Cs, as they’re called, present a holistic approach to laying the groundwork for successful school transformation. First comes conviction, that change is needed and that the specific transformation plan can achieve it. Next is clarity, about the school’s current context, the goals of the change and the strategy for achieving them. Capacity seems obvious, but important: schools should ensure there is enough money, staff expertise, and time to dedicate to the initiative. Change should be supported by a coalition of committed leaders, educators, families and community members. The final “C,” culture, refers to being learner-centered, allowing risk-taking, prioritizing continuous improvement, and offering opportunities for collaboration.

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