#YearInReview: End of Standards-Based Reform, Rise of Maker

Leadership, Learning, Mission-Driven Work

With 2016 just around the corner we are looking back at a #YearInReview. Here are the first 5 posts:

End of an era. As noted in October, we’ll look back on 1993 to 2015 (the tenure of secretaries Riley, Paige, Spellings, and Duncan) as the era of standards-based reform. Secretary Duncan presided over the last third–a period that will go down in history as the most active role for the federal government in U.S. education.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan

Education Secretary Arne Duncan

States will continue to guide local education with aspirational standards but they are likely to get broader as states incorporate success skills. Most states will continue to require end of year tests but they will shrink in size as school systems get better at using all the daily feedback students are receiving in digital learning environments.

Created by the rise of new tools, new schools, and new informal learning opportunities, a new vision for authentic, engaged, and personalized learning has become widely shared.


Making what’s next. The new new thing at ISTE this year was a much expanded display of robots and maker tech. It was an important signal of what’s emerging at the fringe.

#MakerMom Marie Bjerede (@mbjerede) said #maker is “a way of thinking and a stance towards learning and community that is collaborative, participative, critical without being judgmental, and inclusive.”


She observed in her daughter “a way of thinking about what she did so naturally – make things – and a community of support, encouragement and learning where she could develop her passion fearlessly.”

On learning environments, Marie likes Maker Faire as a model, “a place where collaboration, community, and achievement are all celebrated and the presumption is that a Maker owns her work.”


Lindsay Own (@LindseyOwn) launched a makerspace at the Evergreen School north of Seattle and wrote a twelve part series about the adventure.

  1. A Challenge to Bring Making Into Hour of Code
  2. 3 Lenses for Developing Deeper Driving Questions
  3. 8 Tips in Taking on School-Wide Makerspace Leadership
  4. Houston, Texas: A Growing Center for DIY Innovation
  5. Navigating the Shift from Number Grades to Narrative Assessment
  6. Introducing and Deepening Design Thinking with Teacher Leaders
  7. Applying Psychology and Learning Sciences Research to Developing a Makerspace
  8. Mentoring New Teachers Toward Innovation
  9. Building a Common School Vision For Your Makerspace
  10. The Makings of a Makerspace: Three Examples
  11. Your Students can be “Makers”: 16 Projects Invented by Teachers
  12. Innovation Leadership in Schools

Students first. As noted in September, the next 20 years will be framed not by legislation but an emerging vision of student-centered learning. Shaped by dozens of next generation elementary schools, high schools, and school districts, a new vision for authentic, engaged, and personalized learning has become widely shared by collaborations like Education Reimagined and new films including Most Likely to SucceedGrant programs reflecting this learner-centered vision have been launched by Carnegie, NGLC, NewSchools, Nellie Mae, and more. 

With a less constrictive federal frame, there is room for design thinking,  emergence, and the rise of #MakerEd.

For more, see:

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is author of Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and Learn Capital and serves on the boards of 4.0 Schools, eduInnovation, Digital Learning Institute, Imagination Foundation, Charter Board Partners and Bloomboard. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.

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