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U.S. Chamber Foundation Asks for Policy Proposals to Improve K-12

The foundation’s Future of Data in K-12 Education Design Challenge is asking education leaders to submit ideas for better ways to measure student performance and make schools accountable for results.

Students sitting in front of computers in a classroom, with one student pointing to their screen, which says “LEARNING” on it.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the U.S. Chamber focused on advocating for businesses, is soliciting ideas for policy proposals to address some of the issues facing K-12 education, including falling reading and math scores.

The Future of Data in K-12 Education Design Challenge, a nationwide effort launched last week, is the second phase of a multiyear plan by the foundation, dubbed the Future of Data, Assessments, and Accountability in K-12 Education. The plan kicked off in September with a focus on improving student outcomes across all K-12 classrooms — specifically, how those outcomes should be measured and how the education system can be made accountable for student learning.

In creating the Future of Data plan earlier this year, the foundation set out to review the outcomes of education reforms over the past two decades, and whether policies did what they were created to do. Following that research, the foundation in September said it assembled a group of 15 leaders from various public positions, nonprofits and school districts to meet regularly and work together on improving the education system through technology and policy. The new education design challenge hopes to generate ideas for potential solutions and their implementation, according to the foundation’s Dec. 8 news release.

“A lot has changed concerning assessments and accountability in the 20 years since No Child Left Behind,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Senior Vice President Cheryl Oldham, who is among the group working on the initiative, said in a public statement. “There are new, better methods of testing in our K-12 schools that go beyond multiple-choice and allow students to better demonstrate their knowledge. It’s time to think critically about how accountability and assessment policy and practice should evolve to match what we now know.”

The education design challenge comes on the heels of an October report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress that indicated students in fourth and eighth grade experienced their largest drops ever recorded in math, the foundation release said. The drop in scores was more prevalent for students of color and those with disabilities, the report said. The findings further indicated a need for a nationwide focus on raising student outcomes, the release said.

The foundation is taking proposals from “experts, practitioners and advocates” through Feb. 24, according to its website. The foundation and its working group will review the proposals and award cash prizes to the top 20 submissions, including $5,000 to the top 20 and $30,000 to the top six, the release said. Winners will be chosen in April.