Questioning the Status Quo in Education

Third place in the ELCC: (l. to r.) Jerry Lee, Mike Ciccarone, Luke Ahn, Nikita Kiselev, all MBA 13.

Sparking school district innovation with miniature “X-Prize” competitions was but one idea put forth in Haas School’s 6th annual Education Leadership Case Competition. This particular idea garnered third place for the Berkeley MBA team of Mike Ciccarone, Nikita Kiselev, Jerry Lee, and Luke Ahn, all MBA 13. One of the impressed judges called it “out of the box, yet entirely do-able.”

Nine student teams took on the challenge of helping SFUSD spread innovations district-wide and spur innovation in the impending absence of federal funding. The Haas team proposed holding small district-wide competitions that would target the specific learning needs of key stakeholders.

“If a teacher was struggling with developing his own tools to analyze student data to direct instruction, we imagined a contest calling on all teachers in the district for their best tools to meet this need,” says Ciccarone. “The best entries would be rewarded with public praise and education supplies for classrooms–donated by local partners.”

Ten teams from eight MBA programs competed, with UCLA Anderson placing first and Vanderbilt’s Owen School placing second. “The district representatives left with many ideas on how to spark innovation using a confined set of resources,” says Bruce Dos Santos, MBA 12, co-organizer of this year’s competition along with classmates German Freiwald and Aaron Sokol. “We think they will begin to implement some of these tools in the coming weeks and months.”

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