The time scales involved in education reform are a stubborn and persistent complicating matter. The real benefit of any large scale reform can only truly be seen after a significant time period has passed. Take for example, a curriculum change that is implemented across multiple grade levels; perhaps a school’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards. It is possible - and it is frequently done - to examine student test scores pre- and post- adoption of the standard, and these may very well be completed within a short time frame of one year or two years. Yet whether the curriculum change itself has had an impact on the student learning is left in doubt. Surely, when a school adopts a new curriculum, there is myriad other affects things at play; teachers may undergo immediate professional development activities which create renewed focus and attention to teaching practices, administrators may begin intensive observations of classrooms, outside stakeholders (such as state boards, etc.) may have some influence, etc.
Sadly - as many teachers would be quick to tell you - educational reforms tend, themselves, to have a lifespan shorter than 12 years. Those ideas which were at once seen to be the next greatest idea in improving standards, personalizing learning, incorporating technology, and increasing academic achievement are quickly replaced by the next best idea. To the educator, it seems as though a few basic ideas have been recirculated and regurgitated with new vocabulary every so many years, as the next generation of doctorates and educational researchers find their voice.
This vicious cycle stemming from the mismatch of the 12 or 13 year education span of k-12 students, and the successions of repackaged and regurgitated education reforms, speaks at once to both the challenges of chronology in education as well as the systems nature of education. Indeed, education an endeavor which must consider both the time spans upon which it exists, and also the multitude of systems in which it is intertwined.