Giving Compass' Take:

• Chelsea Waite discusses the launch of the Christensen Institute's new Canopy project and three school innovation takeaways that may challenge your assumptions.

• How can funders help to advance education innovation in local communities? 

• Here’s an article on the pitfalls of word-of-mouth innovation in schools. 

Assumptions about how innovation evolves and spreads can run rampant in the education space. Sometimes these assumptions are perpetuated by durable stereotypes about capacities and challenges in different kinds of schools: urban, low-income, affluent, predominantly minority, etc. Other times, assumptions can arise when a mental model for a particular approach gains popularity and then calcifies despite how actual implementation can vary. (Just think of how “personalized learning” can bring to mind “playlists,” or “blended learning” can conjure “kids in headphones,” despite a wide variety of blended and personalized learning designs.)

In an effort to break out of the school innovation echo chamber and surface a more diverse set of schools, the Christensen Institute recently launched the Canopy project, a collaborative initiative that reimagines how school innovation data is sourced and structured. We generated Canopy data from a two-step nomination process that shares information about school design from a diverse set of schools not commonly referenced on typical school lists. The project uses a set of 88 “tags,” or keywords and phrases representing aspects of school design, that nominators and school leaders applied to each school’s nomination to describe elements of the school’s design.

Canopy data on school models, sourced from 173 schools that verified their information, reveals insights that may otherwise have gone unnoticed by the field. Whether you’re deeply familiar with school innovation or just starting to learn more, here are a few takeaways from the newly-released Canopy report that may challenge your assumptions.

  1. Assumption: In public districts, suburban schools are the ripest ground for innovation.
  2. Assumption: Project-based learning (PBL) is attainable mainly in affluent suburban schools.
  3. Assumption: “Moving beyond test scores” means prioritizing social-emotional learning (SEL).

Read the full article about school innovation insights that challenge common assumptions by Chelsea Waite at Getting Smart.