Title

Democratizing Educational Innovation and Improvement: The Policy Contexts of Improvement Research in Education

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version

6-2021

Abstract

The aim of this essay is to advance understandings of current efforts to democratize disciplined approaches to educational innovation and improvement in the US and other countries, with a specific focus on the macro-level policy contexts of improvement research in education. In the US, earlier analyses examined these policy contexts from a contemporary perspective, with an emergent improvement movement in tension with an institutionalized evidence movement. By contrast, this essay provides an historical perspective through a “geological analysis” of US education reform. This analysis has the improvement movement atop macro-level policy contexts that are layers-deep, and as potentially integral to a public education enterprise that has been evolving for centuries: at the policy level, from resource-forward to practice-forward innovation and improvement; at the local level, from school systems to education systems to learning systems. This analytic approach and framework suggest the need for a new discourse about efforts to democratize disciplined approaches to educational innovation and improvement in the US, as well as possibilities for comparative and international research examining parallel developments in other countries. This essay was prepared as a contribution to The Foundational Handbook on Improvement Research in Education.

Keywords

innovation, improvement, policy, research, knowledge production, knowledge use, systems, mass schooling, markets, infrastructure, evidence, practice, resource-forward, practice-forward

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Date Posted: 30 June 2021