What are key issues of systemic change impacting education in public schools?

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Systemic change is a phrase often used in connection with a technologically driven and corporatized model of educational reform. This model, often financed by philanthropists from technology industries, focuses on using big data and innovative technology, including artificial intelligence–driven adaptive learning, to radically change the nature of education rather than simply improving the existing model. The first issue to which this model responds is the concern that many students are not graduating with skills that prepare them adequately for many job openings.

Another systemic problem one encounters is that external factors may be affecting student learning. Students who lack adequate food and medical care, do not have a home environment conducive to studying, have limited access to technology, or live in unstable or abusive environments may struggle in school. These external factors need to be considered as part of systematic approaches to reform. A healthy breakfast and hot lunch may do more to improve an economically deprived student's performance than any change to teaching or curriculum.

Next, systematic reform looks at how traditional structures, such as disciplinary boundaries or students learning in cohorts determined by age, may impede learning. Systemic approaches often see technological innovation as offering potential solutions.

Finally, the growth of information technology changes both the skills workers will need and the ways people go about acquiring and processing knowledge, and systemic approaches to educational reform must create new curricular models and skill clusters responding to these changes.

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