Sunday, January 17, 2016

Disrupting Education in Bold Ways: The Time is Right

For following is a guest post authored by Dr. Bill Daggett, Founder and Chairman of the
International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE).

I believe that this a time when education can change in fundamental ways. The recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will reverse the decades’ long trend of centralizing decisions about what students need to learn and how they must be assessed and put them back in the hands of local school districts as well as state education departments’ hands. The increase in federal regulations supported with financial incentives we have seen over the past several years will be lessened. Most notable are the provisions around Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) moving back to the state and local districts. Now we will be able to act on our priorities, not simply driven by federal priorities that may not have been a good fit for our districts and schools. 

Of course, any piece of legislation has its merits and its drawbacks, but one hugely positive aspect of the ESSA is that it puts the onus back on the states and local districts to determine how they will monitor and evaluate student learning and progress. I believe that it is our obligation to make the most of the opportunity we have before us. This is our chance to collaboratively create indicators of achievement catered to the unique DNA of our state, district, and school. We have the chance to voice our own opinions and actually have them heard, respected, and applied to the process of overhauling the system and focusing on what matters most: students.

Educators at the local and state levels are now in critical positions of responsibility.  To state education officials:

  • Will you seek out the opinion of local school officials and will you empower them to make decisions based upon the community’s needs?

  • Will you fall prey to the same strategic errors the feds made and believe you know best and shut out local community’s opinions and authority?

To members of school boards:

  • Will you involve your community in the process? 
  • Will you include educators and parents—those on the ground—who possess the valuable insights that can inform wise choices? 
  • Will you compile and analyze local data to drive evidence-based decisions? Engage your local communities in respectful, honest dialogue to hear concerns, gather knowledge and ideas, and synthesize insights into your vision?

To all of you in leadership and instructional positions:

  • Will you focus on students’ specific needs and your school’s unique DNA when making plans? 
  • Will you use current data to drive decisions that fit future-focused goals?  
  • Will you determine new metrics necessary to monitor successful realization and impact of your fresh and systematic strategies and initiatives? 
  • Will you identify multiple new and cutting-edge indicators of student learning and growth that speak to the development of the whole child, not just a test-taker? 

Let’s toss out the existing rules and write new ones.  Let’s tear down the outdated system and rebuild on a foundation that looks to the future— not the past— for ideas and inspiration. The 2016 Model Schools Conference is the place for exploring ways to innovate out of the old model and construct a system that’s set up strategically to prepare our students with the skills they need to excel in a complex world. We will share inspiring stories from disruptors in our own field who have reclaimed the mantle of student-centered learning and are building a progressive system around it. Using the experience of those who have had success creating new structures as well as the inspiration and motivation of those who are just beginning, we will provide practical, exciting tools to create a culture of innovation.

For information on the Model Schools Conference and to register click HERE.

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree on the concept that ESSA is taking us to a better spot because it has updated its thinking. I am concerned that the thinking of states and some school boards has not changed though. Many states continue to have the same mindset as the federal government, they simply hand down mandates without asking others what is best for students. State and local control are only as local as those in charge allow it to be. A mandate should be set that students and parents need to be polled on specific needs and what is best for all. The poll then should move to teachers and administrators who should be the controlling voice at the state level. This may help develop a growth mindset as opposed to a punishment mindset currently set by some states.