In the data-driven world that is modern education, how do we measure innovation in our schools?
School leaders are in a tricky position when it comes to bringing innovation into their schools.
While we all like to preach that we look for more than test scores, poor NAPLAN results are a guarantee to make the news.
Even worse, year 12 results are still the be-all-and-end-all for many high schools across Australia.
This national data and results-driven mindset ties schools’ hands behind their backs when it comes to bringing in change.
The challenge of innovation
If we are looking for the academic results and high test scores as a sign of a school’s success, why would you do anything but ‘teach to the test’? Innovation is usually a casualty of the system.
Now, when I say innovation, I don’t mean whatever the new buzz word is in educational circles. I also don’t mean everything has to be cutting-edge with new technology.
Innovation is simply doing something that is new and better than the way it was done previously.
However, schools are still preferring to play it safe in many ways.
Partially, this mindset is because it is so difficult to formally measure the impact of innovation on your students.
Sure, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to highlight the progress, but without hard data it can be hard to get everybody on board.
Return On Innovation
I think a great way to get the ball rolling would be to start to look at a return on innovation in your school.
Similar to how a business calculates a return on investment, a return on education could see the long-term impact of innovation in the classroom.
For example, you can measure the number of innovative practices your school brings in and the effect it has on key metrics over time; Measuring the number of innovative practices can be done with a checklist or similar criteria.
The problem with return on innovation
While I love the thought experiment of a ‘return on innovation’ in the classroom, there is still a major issue that I see in the short term…. what data are we measuring?
I believe that a lot of the problems the current school system face originate from a standardised test culture. Measuring these numbers probably won’t solve too many of the problems…. however perhaps it can start to piece everything together and
Perhaps schools can keep data of what their students do once they finish school?
As you can see, the concept of a return on innovation is one that is still forming in my mind. What do you think? Comment below or email me at vince @ vincemassara . com