What constitutes a quality education in 2017? How can student learning or teacher performance truly be measured in a valid, reliable and meaningful way? How is my kid doing? Is my high school graduate college and career ready, and just what does that mean exactly? Those important questions have become increasingly difficult to answer with one definitive response. As societal expectations, technological advances and the global economy have changed, our paradigm about a quality education has largely held static. That needs to change.
Confronting the brutal facts is often cited as one precondition to improvement. Educators are inundated with data and the pressure to improve can become debilitating. Under those conditions it can be tempting to pursue a risky pathway toward improvement that seeks to control outcomes despite the demonstration of efficacy. These strategies often meet our unspoken beliefs about high expectations and are designed with good intentions for students. This is often the case regardless of the specific improvement target (attendance, achievement, behavior, college readiness, etc.). But what if our intuition leads us astray, or has us chasing a mirage?
Over the next few months our district will meet with the community to cast vision for the future. This is an exciting time to dream big and look beyond past challenges. The visioning process has always captured my attention with the hope and optimism that accompany it. One thing is clear after experiencing the process multiple times in multiple settings, it’s hard to make your vision stick.