Innovation is a feature of education. New program ideas are developed, new technologies taken up and both researchers and social entrepreneurs offer new opportunities for schools. But such innovations can be too narrow in scope or too small in scale to create a systemic impact for all students. Creating optimal benefit for students whose educational disadvantage has been documented for over fifty years, likely requires more radical alternatives.
Disengagement from school especially dropping out has serious social and economic consequences for individuals and for society. It creates significant inequity because it disproportionately affects students from families living in poverty, youth with disabilities, Aboriginal students, and young people from some minority communities.
Disengagement from learning can be serious even for students who know how to "do school" and meet the formal graduation but may not be good thinkers or problem solvers. CEA's own research has shown that only 37% of middle and secondary school students are intellectually engaged in their studies. This alone makes a compelling case for transformation, since intellectual engagement is essential for deep and enduring learning.
In Canada, the potential for transformation is strong, supported by the knowledge that:
- Teaching practices exist that enable all students to achieve at high levels.
- Certain educational practices and learning processes engage students in deeper and more sustained learning.
- Students have a more worthwhile and productive educational experience when they actively collaborate with teachers in the process of improvement.
- Persistent achievement gaps could be narrowed, if not eliminated, by consistently using educational practices that are known to be effective.
Educational practices include the policies, resources, structures and processes within which teaching and learning take place. Traditional education systems sort students into tracks or pathways according to their perceived abilities and academic outcomes. CEA holds a vision of schools where students discover their passions and interests and that inspires them to become confident and competent learners for life.