The latest numbers from the Nation’s Report Card, recently covered by the Washington Post and other outlets, reveal a sharp decline in student achievement. If we’re looking for a cause of these drops in performance, we don’t need to look far. It’s in the fundamental approach to learning in America. Our modern education system is built on the assumption that all kids should learn the same material in the same way. For evidence, consider our decades-long obsession with standardized testing, which drives instructional models focused on test prep and the rapid recall of facts, rather than deep and contextualized learning.
Sorting and ranking students shouldn’t be the primary purpose of education. Instead, we should offer individualized education that encourages kids to discover, develop, and apply their unique gifts. The Charles Koch Institute has seen the success of this philosophy firsthand through its work with hundreds of nontraditional education programs across the country which are finding innovative ways to facilitate real learning.
A prime example is Outschool, an online education platform offering interactive classes that unleash the creativity of each student. EarthChild Explorers, which receives funding and support from our VELA Education Fund partner, is another. This outdoors microschool for kids from preschool to first grade uses nature as a tool to teach subjects like math and reading—a curriculum designed to support risk-taking, exploration, and play.
In a world where standardized education is failing our kids more than ever, these student-driven programs deserve an A. That’s why we support social entrepreneurs who see beyond the one-size-fits-all model and are creating individualized opportunities for all learners.
The Charles Koch Institute inspires and invests in social entrepreneurs developing solutions to America’s most pressing problems. Read more about our support for social entrepreneurs committed to education.