Thanks Matt for your thoughtful piece. Completely agree with the need to spread funding further upstream to be developing more potential solutions to these challenging education issues. The contextual challenge I see is that society is not happy to accept the inevitable failures that result in the pursuit of innovation. Innovation flourishes when tests and pilots are conducted with shorter cycles as you put out a solution, see what works or doesn’t, and then use that information to continuously improve. In many consumer and B2B markets the cost of failure is limited to some financial loss and unhappy customers. In contrast, in industries such as health and education we as a society can’t accept the idea that some people will be worse off as we trial promising but unproven new products and methodologies. The natural outcome from this is a very slow innovation process in order to mitigate risks. Rarely do we think about how many people are disadvantaged by locking them in to the current system. I would say the current system is broken — one that focuses on learning to take tests rather than mastering concepts and then predictably produced only 55% of 4 year degree seeking students graduating within 6 years (http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/11/19/u_s_college_dropouts_rates_explained_in_4_charts.html)

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EdTech entrepreneur, passionate about improving education impact through tech and research-driving practice. Former consultant and engineer. Harvard MBA.

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