Harnessing Technology to Improve K-12 Education


Technological progress has consistently driven remarkable advances in the U.S. economy, yet K–12 education sees little technological change compared to other sectors, even as U.S. K–12 students increasingly lag behind students in other nations. This proposal considers how we can take a signature American strength—innovation—and apply it to K–12 education. We argue that the advent of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and broadband Internet create promising opportunities for developing new learning technologies but that a fundamental obstacle remains: the effectiveness of learning technologies is rarely known. Not surprisingly, when no one knows what works, schools are unlikely to buy, and innovators are unlikely to create. Our proposed EDU STAR system will solve this problem by (a) undertaking rapid, rigorous, and low-cost evaluations of learning tools and (b) reporting results to the public. Coupling Internet-based real-time evaluation systems (demonstrated daily by many leading companies) with trusted reporting (modeled by Consumer Reports and others), the proposed EDU STAR platform will help schools make informed learning technology decisions and substantially reduce entry barriers for innovators. EDU STAR will bring together K–12 schools, teachers, and innovators and continually improve this critical foundation for economic prosperity.