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The winning team (L-R): Holly O’Dell, Kaleigh Ross, Cody Fischer, Tanya Pramatarova, and Jackson Edwards (all ’14)

The winning team (L-R): Holly O’Dell, Kaleigh Ross, Cody Fischer, Tanya Pramatarova, and Jackson Edwards (all ’14)

Changing education

Team of five Kellogg students captures top honors with “encompassing, creative solutions” for education reform

By Daniel P. Smith

11/2/2012 - A team of students from the Kellogg School of Management bested 11 other teams from premier graduate programs across the country to capture top honors in the Education Innovation Case Competition, hosted by Kellogg.

Now in its fourth year, the Oct. 27 event held at Wieboldt Hall in downtown Chicago placed a premium on innovative solutions to the nation’s education disparities, as teams were charged to create a realistic and holistic reform program that would add 100,000 high-performing seats in a typical urban city.

Each team’s 15-minute presentation was judged on its creativity as well as its ability to exist within current policy and funding environments. Participants were also encouraged to think across constituent groups, including teachers, administrators, families and students.

The team of Jackson Edwards, Cody Fischer, Holly O’Dell, Tanya Pramatarova and Kaleigh Ross (all ’14) embraced the Kellogg hallmarks of collaboration and innovation to produce the winning plan.

“Ultimately, that excitement [we had for our ideas] and creativity showed through to the judges,” team captain Jackson Edwards said.

Winning concepts

The Kellogg team’s winning proposal aimed to:

  • foster school competition

  • encourage school autonomy

  • restructure teacher compensation and career progression

Among the group’s more novel ideas was to start new teachers with smaller class sizes, which would allow them time to apply teaching theory, develop curriculum and better understand student and community needs. Once able to demonstrate success, teachers would then be assigned an increasing number of students and earn added compensation.

Competition judge Walter Scott, a clinical professor of management and Strategy at Kellogg, called the winning team’s plan “relevant “and “feasible.”

“They were directing money to where it would make the most difference,” Scott said.

Innovation in education

As a multi-time judge of the Education Innovation Case Competition, Scott said the annual forum sparks enthusiasm for a pressing domestic and international issue.

“Five Kellogg teams alone wanted to compete, which suggests the excitement that’s present around the areas of education, social enterprise and innovation,” Scott said.

Marcela Camargo ‘14, co-president of the event-sponsoring Kellogg Education Industry Club, said the competition aims to energize top graduate students about education reform through entrepreneurship and innovation.

“If we are to successfully address the current education crisis, we need individuals who not only think boldly and creatively about education reform, but who also have the vision, know-how and drive to scale their ideas beyond the district level,” Camargo said.

Further Reading

Designing urban schools

A force for education reform