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Advice: Support and Leverage for Early Adopters

How four states empowered innovators

Overview

Innovation in education does not always take hold when mandated solely from the “top down.” Early adopters at the school and district level can show the way for others across the state, and they provide authentic, real-world experience from which to base policies and support for scale. How have states supported their blended and personalized learning early adopters?

Launched in July 2014, Fuse RI is an open access model for supporting and expanding K-12 blended learning implementation in Rhode Island (RI). The creation of the Fuse Fellowship was a strategic decision to cultivate early adopter educators into a cohort of experienced blended learning leaders for Rhode Island. Fuse RI, which is implemented by the Highlander Institute and received early funding from The Learning Accelerator, has a goal of developing a statewide system for sharing, implementing, evaluating, and scaling blended learning and instructional personalization across Rhode Island. The project consists of three key components that address critical gaps in building system-level competencies to support implementation, creating a statewide pipeline of blended learning leaders, and building customized resources for districts.

Other examples of statewide support for early adopters include Raise Your Hand Texas, which founded the Raising Blended Learners Initiative as a $2.5 million grant program that deliberately builds statewide expertise and capacity for blended learning. Raise Your Hand Texas focuses on identifying breakthrough ideas to improve education, piloting them in public schools and supporting the conditions and public policies that allow them to scale to reach all Texas students.

The New Jersey Department of Education established its innovateNJ Community – the central component of the state’s innovateNJ initiative – as a community designed to help foster, support and scale district and school innovation across the state. And in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education commissioned a report called The New Opportunity to Lead, which provides a rationale and design for a statewide innovation capacity-building initiative comprised of three ideas: investing in a new technology bond, developing an annual Accelerated Learning Challenge, and establishing a statewide network to bring together educators, innovators and venture capitalists to develop a common dialogue on innovation.