Interest in scaling promising innovations to effect systemic change in education around the world has grown over the last decade. Scaling has become fashionable because the modern landscape of educational improvement is littered with short-term projects that temporarily succeeded only to later dissipate, isolated pursuits that never crossed into broad adoption, or specialized policy programs that floundered. Moving beyond 20th-century technical-rational implementation and acknowledging the mixed history of global development in low-and middle-income countries, newer iterations of scaling have sought to collaboratively embed promising education ideas and technologies into whole systems. Increased recognition of the interconnectedness of culture, governments, global development architecture, and the learning sciences has reframed education scaling as a holistic process of mutual adaptation and collective transformation. Lasting impact has replaced size or scope as the goal. As a result, this past decade of scaling and research has offered hope and possibility—even as it has also underscored the sometimes maddening complexity of this work.

And yet, as challenging as scaling is under ordinary 21st-century circumstances, it has become downright arduous over the last two years due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The work of scaling education innovations (up, out, down, and into deep and lasting impact) has always required nimble attention to the unpredictability of implementation. Much has been written about the need for adaptive mindsets, planning for scale at the beginning, enlisting allies and champions, and embedding continuous improvement loops into the whole process (Al-Ubaydli, List, & Suskind, 2019; Gargani & McLean, 2019; Perlman Robinson, Curtiss, & Hannahan, 2020).

Read the full article about scaling education by Brad Olsen at Brookings.