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Aurora Institute

iNACOL Has Become the Aurora Institute

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Susan Patrick

Issue(s): Federal Policy, State Policy, Issues in Practice, Lead Change and Innovation

For 17 years, iNACOL has been a leading voice advocating for expanding high-quality K-12 educational opportunities. Over time, our work has evolved to an expanded view of the need for breakthroughs in policy and practices for systems change required to ensure all students are prepared for success in our rapidly changing world.

We’ve just marked another important milestone in our journey. I’m proud to announce that iNACOL has become the Aurora Institute

Why did we decide to change our name? First and foremost, because every learner deserves a clear path to future success, and we believe that a clearer brand identity will better position us to prepare those pathways.

However, changing our name also creates three other important solutions for us.

  • We get a name that defines us as an organization committed to systems change in K-12 education. For 20 years, we’ve been the brain trust for a growing field working toward field-building activities and knowledge sharing on education innovations by publishing resources on quality frameworks, promising practices and policy levers to enable school redesign, rethinking balanced systems of assessment, providing technical assistance to policymakers, and deepening our collective understanding of what is needed for dismantling inequities in the structure of public education. Our networks have looked to us to set agendas, unify our frameworks, and craft narratives about our collective work. We are grounded in practitioner’s work on the leading edge of education innovation nationally and globally.
  • The change in name responds to a shift in our mission, vision, and values. Our founding in 2002 grew out of a concern that current models of K-12 education were not providing access to teachers and the courses students needed, nor fully preparing students for future success with an orientation toward lifelong learning, which we know is critical for the rapidly evolving world in which we live.
    • Our initial focus centered around the role of online learning to expand access to courses and teachers to respond to this problem of limited access to courses and to level the playing field for all students. This is because, at the time, it contained a wealth of unparalleled and unprecedented opportunities to innovate learning environments and change our conceptions of teaching and learning.
    • Over the past decade, however, our work led us to go deeper and deeper to investigate the root causes of the challenges that beset our education system. Tweaking the existing system or expanding access to the current traditional system of education is not enough. There are fundamental issues we have raised in the deepening of our work that cannot be unseen: our system is built on fundamental flaws that won’t get better with incremental, piecemeal change. What this inquiry means is that moving from a focus on a particular delivery system is necessary to continue to advance the field with the intention of innovating education toward future-focused, equity-driven models that serve all students.
    • Next-generation learning, by definition, includes all delivery methods for learning. We have moved the field from a focus on its form to a focus on its intent and purpose. So too must we move ourselves as a representative of this change.
    • In late 2017, our board of directors voted to adopt a new mission, vision, and values for the organization.
    • Our mission is to drive the transformation of education systems and accelerate the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all.
    • The name change illuminates our role as a convener of networks.
    • We have 17 years of work bringing people together to advance systems change.
    • We introduce school leaders working in isolation to a broader network and research to support the implementation of student-centered learning models.
    • We assemble peers and experts to jury our publications and other knowledge-dissemination activities.
    • We convene advisory groups to guide a collective vision across the field of student-centered, personalized, competency-based education.
    • We survey the field for needs, issues, and changes in direction.
    • That’s in addition to our work of annually hosting the field’s largest conference dedicated to education innovations shifting to student-centered learning.

As thrilled as we are about the exciting new changes that Aurora Institute will bring, I want to underscore that much will remain unchanged.  The change in name does not signal a change in passion. The legacy embedded in the iNACOL name will continue under the Aurora Institute, including conducting research, issuing publications, hosting webinars, visiting schools, analyzing and developing policy, facilitating learning communities, tracking legislation and offering technical assistance, and advocating for personalized, competency-based education. The annual Symposium, the field’s flagship convening for systems change allies, will also continue.

In the coming months, we will share more about the exciting changes on the horizon and what they mean for you. Expect a new website in the spring of 2020. Continue to watch our social media platforms, Facebook and  Twitter to stay up to date, and please reach out if I may help you better understand why we are making this change.

In faithful partnership,

Susan Patrick,
President & CEO, Aurora Institute