AAI announces the Center for Reimagining Education
LAWRENCE — The Achievement & Assessment Institute (AAI) has announced the new Center for Reimagining Education (CRE), whose mission is to accelerate the pace of change in schools and districts. CRE will pursue its goals by leveraging technology and data and bringing together diverse teams of people to establish school-community driven partnerships and open pathways for learning.
The center is led by founding director Des Floyd and includes co-founders Rick Ginsberg, dean of the KU School of Education & Human Sciences, and Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology at KU. The initial work of the center is funded by a seed gift from the Al & Sharon Cinelli Family Foundation.
CRE seeks to help teachers, leaders and districts innovate by taking ideas from conception to implementation. CRE will work with schools and the communities they serve through partnerships, practice and by centering learners as catalysts for change and transformation.
“We want to see schools completely reimagine what they're doing,” Ginsberg said.
“Rather than it being the traditional top-down change, which hasn't changed anything in 120 some odd years, let's try a different approach driven by students and technology.”
The center grew out of Zhao and Ginsberg’s book, “Duck and Cover: Confronting and Correcting Dubious Practices in Education.” The book explores educational practices whose usefulness has declined over time, lack sound theoretical foundations or long-term evidence — or are even harmful.
“For the last 30 years now I've been talking a lot about how traditional education cannot be improved, it has to be transformed,” Zhao said. “I've been writing a lot about different ways to do that and working with schools in the U.S., Australia, China and Argentina. But because it was just me by myself, I've only been able to give them ideas and suggestions. It was nothing like a whole center like CRE that can truly bring the changes to education in Kansas and beyond.”
The trio hope to provide the tools and means to try new forms of teaching, especially in underserved communities. Floyd said that an important aspect of the transformation of education is looking at a student’s potential.
“I'm more interested in capability, not just ability. And when you talk about capability, we're talking about potential. We're talking about what is possible,” Floyd said.
Floyd has 25 years of experience working in the education sector, including as a secondary school teacher in a high needs public high school and as a districtwide and statewide coach, servicing schools and districts with the highest concentrations of traditionally marginalized student and family populations
“I'm someone who critiques the K12 system as well, but I also have been through it, and there's a lot that I've tried,” he said. “So, the question is, what are we offering folks in the way of solutions? How are we supporting them with the challenges that they're faced with?”
For AAI Director and University Distinguished Professor Neal Kingston, the new center aligns closely with the mission of the Achievement & Assessment Institute.
“It is important to think about educational change through multiple methodological perspectives. While some educational problems are well served by incremental changes, others are best served by stronger actions. Egregious approaches (ducking under a desk to protect yourself from an atom bomb, as described by Zhao and Ginsberg in their book), should be thrown out and replaced,” Kingston said.
The center will use a two-pronged approach to system innovation, the first consisting of establishing and accelerating the pace of educational progress by empowering students to lead as drivers of change. The second involves supporting a school-within-a-school path to change that emphasizes students’ needs, passions and tech savvy and new innovations in educator and leader practice.
“I'm looking forward to spending time with researchers here at KU helping us to build the evidence base for human potential and capability. Our framework will be informed and shaped by the work that I'm doing with Rick and Yong and members of our advisory board,” Floyd said. “This is a place where ideas go to grow, and I feel like that applies to me as well as the students and other people who are a part of this.”