Neuroscience is on the Agenda – by Roger Stark

A few weeks ago, I participated, as I have for the last several years, in the Washington DC Education Technology Government Forum hosted by the Software and Information Industry Association, together with the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).  The conference, titled “Education Funding & Programs in a (Post) Stimulus World,” shed light on an imminent sea change in education.

Through presentations by Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education, Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Innovation & Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education, and Chris Minnich, Director of Standards, for the Council of Chief State School Officers, among many others, a picture emerged of the policy focus coming together to address the crisis: Accountability and Teacher Proficiency.  The government seems poised to devote less energy to telling educators exactly how to do things, and more energy to setting goals and common core standards, then letting the educators themselves figure out how to do it.  The short-hand description of the policy is “Tight Goals, Loose Means.”  Technology is seen as playing a major role in supporting both accountability and teacher proficiency and to delivering an engaging and high-quality education at a lower cost.

Also new on the agenda, for the first time, is neuroscience.  Since I had been talking to Jim Shelton for three years about the importance of neuroscience in education, I thanked him in person for his role in getting it on the agenda.  “Roger,” he said, “it’s the right thing to do.” 

Please share with us your thoughts on what having neuroscience on the education policy agenda in the U.S. will mean.

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