During his presentation Is School Reform Dead? at the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group Content in Context conference, Russ Whitehurst, Herman and George R. Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution and previous director of the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, provided an engaging narrative on the status of school reform in the U.S. Whitehurst argued that the answer is yes, school reform is dead in a top-down approach, but it is alive and thriving in a bottom-up technological approach. His explanation of what the future of school reform looks like for the publishing industry was full of excitement as well as warning. Being flexible and open to innovative approaches in developing and providing educational materials was at the heart of advice Whitehurst shared with the audience. With his predication that school reform will begin to decrease the federal government’s control, he described a more fragmented educational market with multiple players appearing. This type of disruption will present space for publishers to innovate, but Whitehurst believes the industry will need to become increasingly individualized.
A variety of emerging opportunities for publishers in the future of school reform were discussed during the presentation:
- Developing the course content
- Optimizing the delivery of content using knowledge about the science of learning
- Assessing competence for core materials
- Awarding credentials for competency
- Tracking and validating outcomes, especially related to future employment
- Personalizing content based on the needs of particular stakeholders
All of these options emphasize a main point of Whitehurst’s presentation: The future of school reform will be full of choices.