About the Lab
Theory of Action
In order to overcome widespread inequity in child development and education supports, opportunities, and outcomes, we must dramatically redesign, align, and integrate our systems of child development and education. If we personalize supports, services, and opportunities starting in early childhood, tailor instruction to meet each child’s needs, braid health and social services with schools, and provide access for all to high-quality expanded learning and enrichment opportunities, then we will ensure that all children—and all means all—have a much fairer chance of succeeding in education and in life.
A New Engine
The aim of the Education Redesign Lab is to engage in a research-informed design process to create a “new engine” for education and child development. This engine will integrate an array of solutions that seek to mitigate the effects of poverty and level the playing field for all students. We have identified three initial design elements, but we intend for this list of components to grow as our process evolves:
Student-Centered, Customized Learning: Schooling must be differentiated to meet all students where they are and provide them with the educational services, supports, and time they need to be successful as young adults in our society. This new system must provide economically disadvantaged students with both high quality early childhood experiences and some form of post-secondary education.
Integrated Health and Social Services: No matter how much schools improve, children need more than academic supports to thrive; they must also be physically and emotionally healthy to be ready to learn each and every day. In this expanded model, health, mental health, and social services must be comprehensive, braided with educational services, and designed to support students so they are able to supply their best effort when in school.
Equal Access to Expanded Learning Opportunities: Low-income children are much less likely to participate in out-of-school enrichment activities than their more affluent peers, and when they do, the programs are generally unaligned with their schooling and inconsistent in quality and availability. To address the out-of-school learning gap, a more coordinated system of programs and services needs to be crafted so that every child has access to a full complement of extended learning, summer, and work-based opportunities that enrich them as learners and help them build the important skills and networks that will serve them in the future.
Making the Case
Mountains of data prove that schools alone, as currently constituted, have not been able to prepare all children to be successful in college, careers, and life. Our school system, in spite of decades of recent reform work, have been unable to deliver on the promise of American public education: excellence and equity. There is still, on average, an iron law correlation between socioeconomic status and educational achievement and attainment. Reforms that only focus on improving curriculum and instruction, for example, are necessary but insufficient to prepare all children for success. Simply optimizing the schools we know will not get us to “all means all.”
Founding the Lab
The Education Redesign Lab was founded by Paul Reville, Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in 2014. Over the last 30 years, Reville has played a leadership role in national education reform with deep involvement in the Massachusetts success story. He has served as Secretary of Education, as Chairman of the State Board of Education, as a State Board member for more than a decade, as founder of the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, and as co-founder of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. In spite of Massachusetts’ outstanding success, deep achievement gaps still persist in the state and across the country. The Lab aims to lead the movement to create a new, more comprehensive education model better designed to close those gaps and provide each and every child the support and opportunities they need to be prepared for success.