Sunday, June 30, 2013

The vision has a place . . .

Yesterday's post mentioned the state capital budget including revenue to support our purchase of 35 acres in Maple Valley's donut hole, a large tract of land owned by King County that includes the Elk Run golf course.  We have been working with King County for about a year on this purchase, but for a number of reasons were not able to finalize it.  We then made a collaborative decision to engage with city staff, council members, and state legislators to explore the possibility of expanding the network.  Yesterday's capital budget brought success to this work.

There are many people that have contributed to this success, some I know and some I'm sure that have been working in Olympia behind the scenes that I don't know.  I'll start with our School Board who made the decision to explore this possibility and President Tim Adam for being part of our team in conversations with county staff and state legislators.  Also, to board member Mary Jane Glaser our legislative representative who has over the years developed a positive working relationship with our state representatives that was an important contribution to this effort.

Locally, Mayor Allison and city manager David Johnston played an active role in conversations with legislators including how our vision aligns well with the city's long term vision for this property.  At the county level Executive Constantine, Roads Division staff, Carrie Cihak, and especially Lauren Smith were key contributors to this effort.  At times, lobbyists for both the city and county were important contributors to the outcome.

At the state level, we spoke with multiple elected officials.  Not knowing how exactly our request made it through the difficult interactions we have witnessed with two special sessions, I know that without the leadership and support of Senators Mullet and Fain and Representatives Sullivan and Dunshee success would not have been possible.  Also in the House, Representatives Rodne and Magendanz provided support in their caucus as did others we did not meet with.

We owe all of these important people thanks for allowing our vision of a high school and regional learning center in the city of Maple Valley to move forward.  It has been a very complex process with highs and lows that I would go through again for this vision to have a chance at reality.  We can now move forward and answer the question in the minds of many.  Where will this school be built?  In what we in our community have come to call the donut hole. So, I guess its time for even me to celebrate.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The session ends . . .

Sixteen days into the second special session brought agreement on an operating budget.  This Seattle Times article captures what many of us are thinking about this budget.

Our finance and Human resource offices have been developing a budget on assumptions.  They can now move forward knowing what the budget drivers will be.  We know that MSOC (Materials, Supplies, and Operating Costs) have been increased as well as movement to fully fund transportation in this biennium.  These are two areas we wanted to see funded that I blogged about here so this is good news for us.

On the not so good side are decisions to reduce class size in K-3 and to fully fund all day Kindergarten. Though these are positive and needed changes, we will not qualify for this additional funding in this biennium.  I believe that the quote below captures the reality the legislators have created with this operating budget.

Dan Steele, government-relations director for school administrators, said he wonders what will happen next biennium when, to meet the court’s order, the Legislature will have to look at adding another $2 billion to $3 billion to the public-school budget.

“The ramp,” he said, “is that much more steep.”

In a separate and important decision for us, agreement on a capital budget has also been reached.  I have been told that money was included for us to complete the purchase of property in the donut hole from King County. I want to celebrate, but haven't been able to confirm.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Proud to be a BEAR . . .

Cassandra Houghton
Tonight was another of one those evenings for me to be proud of being a member of the Tahoma School District.  I attended the E3 Washington Awards ceremony as a board member of the organization to congratulate those individuals and organizations at the state level being recognized for contributions to environmental education.  One of those awards went to Cassandra Houghton a 2013 graduate of Tahoma High School.  Cassandra was also given an opportunity to address the group and got a standing ovation for sharing her Tahoma journey and aspirations for engaging youth in sustainability.  It was a major highlight of the evening.

Representatives of OSPI were also in attendance to honor those schools and districts recognized as state and federal Green Schools that I blogged about here.  That meant that Tahoma was well represented in the awards category and in attendance as we had staff and two board members, Mary Jane Glaser and Tami Henkel there to support our teams.  It was another time when "Papa Bear" could sit back and be proud of the work being done in our system represented by those in the pictures below.
Tahoma School District
Glacier Park
Tahoma High School

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Value added . . .

Reading this article reinforced my belief in our Outcomes and Indicators as value added for our young people as they venture from post secondary learning to work. The focus of the article is on what the world's top employers are looking for in college graduates seeking employment.

The world’s top employers are pickier than ever. And they want to see more than high marks and the right degree.

They want graduates with so-called soft skills — those who can work well in teams, write and speak with clarity, adapt quickly to changes in technology and business conditions and interact with colleagues from different countries and cultures.

‘‘Soft skills tend to differentiate good college graduates from exceptional college graduates,’’ says Joseph Krok, university research liaison at Britain’s Rolls-Royce.

What employers are looking for are young people with the knowledge and skill sets embedded in our Outcomes.  

A survey of employers released in April by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 93 percent of the respondents reported that a capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems was more important than an undergraduate major.

‘‘Many technical programs around the world have historically focused more on technical depth,’’ says Paul McIntyre, vice president in charge of global recruiting at oil giant BP. ‘‘We've been communicating to universities the importance of soft skills.’’

The work that we started in May to review the Outcomes and Indicators to focus more intentionally on work ready skills and a global context is supportive of what we are learning from this article.  I blogged about the evening event starting this work here.  As can be seen below, our current document aligns well with what these employers are expecting from entry level workers.  We now need to continue the process to create deeper alignment so that our graduates become value added for any future employer.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Growth of a learning organization . . .

Thanks Scott for the comment to my last post on applying system tools to an issue that has evaded previous attempts to resolve.  In the comment, he captures one of the reasons why it is sometimes difficult for these tools to become part of the usual way of doing business.  The road to becoming a learning organization is difficult and takes time.

My biggest problem is that I am not a big process person, I am a problem solver and product person. The whole time through these meetings, my mind keeps floating back to, let's create a product, let's make the list of things we are expected to do, let's get this thing done.

Most of us are similar to Scott in that we want our time together to be efficient and effective and for many that means a product and resolution to an issue.  I am no different.  In the last committee meeting there were times when I was thinking if we just made this change or put this new structure in place we can put this problem behind us.  What I have come to understand, however, and Scott is learning is that we must first get to the bottom of the iceberg to understand the mental models driving the structures that create the results we want to change.

Putting new or revised structures in place without understanding the current mental models and preferred mental models necessary to change the results may for a time mask the issue, but often it will return.  This happens because what we have always done has created the results we are experiencing and somewhere in the system there will be a tendency to maintain the current reality by resisting the change.  This process takes time and the capacity of those involved to share their private thoughts.  Again, from experience I know how difficult this is and I also know that it is possible as I observe the capacity growing in our work.  We have a long way to go as a system, but we are learning.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New tools for an old issue . . .

This morning we had a meeting with TEA, Teaching and Learning staff, elementary teachers, and principals to continue looking at the teacher stress caused by having more content than can be covered in a student day.  From my experience, if I were to graph the stress over time it might look like the graph below.

The graph is based upon feedback to TEA leadership over time and assumptions that many of us have made from our experiences.  The committee was formed because of the perception that much of the stress level for many, if not most of our elementary teachers, is a result of the many expectations placed upon them, especially those that are curriculum related. From my experience, I believe that the stress level is high and that we have over time attempted to address this issue by forming teams of teachers to review current reality and make recommendations for changes to align expectations with the available time.  Forming the committees resulted in a very brief and small change to teacher stress levels that did not sustain, but our efforts have not resulted in reduced levels of stress leading to my perception of the graph over time.   Other factors such as introducing new and revised curriculum units would also result in some change, but again the stress level would remain or grow higher.  I would be interested in how others would graph stress over time.

So, what makes this effort any different than those we have implemented in the past?  We are using system tools to process the issue in a new way. The tools are designed to focus on creating a common understanding of our current reality and the structures and mental models in place that create these results.  Once we reach this point, we can then begin to identify new preferred mental models and structures with the potential to change the results that lead to high stress and that will sustain over time.  The process takes time and perseverance as these conversations are not the norm and they require not only balancing advocacy with inquiry, but reflection and the capacity to truly suspend assumptions that drive our mental models and ladders of inference.

The figure below, developed by a local systems thinking consultant, captures the process.  The model gives the perception of a linear process, unfortunately in reality with an issue of this complexity it will be anything but linear.  We have already begun to experience this in our work.
Using these tools I believe will lead us to new structures with the potential to change our results.  This is the mental mode that I bring to the work.  It will take time and commitment on the part of all committee members as we experience a process that will not feel efficient because the structures (product) will not emerge without significant conversation, reflection, and engagement than we normally give to an issue.  Another mental model that I hold is the belief that if we don't use these tools whatever modified or new structures we put in place will not significantly sustain change that reduces the stress felt by elementary teachers.  Our graph would be similar one, two, three, or more years into the future without changing our practice to include these tools.

 I'll share more of my thinking on the need for using these tools in a later post.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Following up on declining support . . .

Adding to my last post on the Common Core would be this report that I learned about at done by Whiteboard Advisers measuring the year-to-year level of support for a number of education issues including the Common Core. Information for the report comes from "policy insiders", described below in their language.

Who Are The Insiders?
Influential leaders who are shaping federal education reform, including individuals who have or are currently serving as key policy and political “insiders,” such as: • Current and former White House and U.S. Department of Education leaders;
• Current and former Congressional staff;
• State education leaders including state school chiefs and former governors; and
• Leaders of major education organizations, think tanks and other key influentials.

There are two sections of the report related to Common Core.  The chart below captures one set of information from these key stakeholders on the shifting support for Common Core over a seven month period of time.  Of particular interest to me is the State Education category that includes legislators showing a decline in the Strong and Very Strong range from 44% to 24% and a growing number that are neutral.  This is a key category as this group has a significant influence on the final decision that states will make.

The second report concerns the status of the two testing consortia developing tests aligned with the Common Core Standards.  The consortia are the SBAC and PARCC.  Our state belongs to the SBAC that had a significantly favorable shift from May to June of this year while PARCC broke a four month declining trend.  Based on this report that is similar to posts I have been seeing we are aligned with the organization best positioned for success.

Below are two comments included in the report.

“If you had to bet it all, SBAC would be the bet at this point but they still haven't proven they can deliver everything and the recently released questions are fine but not all that different from what's on some standardized tests now so they may face a ‘let down’ problem.”

“Smarter Balanced is full of bad ideas competently organized, PARCC replete with good ideas incompetently managed.”

None of this information creates a comfort level for the future considering the amount of time and resources we are devoting to this work.  We need to follow these "policy insiders" as they make predictions on the fate of this initiative that so many have embraced as a component of "fixing" our broken public school system.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Growing push against common core . . .
In my blog folder I have about 20 articles and posts about the push back to the Common Core State Standards that I posted about  here.  In this Education News article we now learn that Michigan will join Indiana in becoming the second state to stop implementation of  the standards.  In addition, Minnesota has withdrawn from the math standards, but will continue to implement the reading/language arts standards.  This action in Michigan comes after districts in the state have been working since 2010 to align their curriculum with the standards.  I wonder what districts are saying about this decision after this effort.

In the article there is a quote from Senator Rand Paul that captures one of the points critics are using in efforts to get states to pull back from the standards.

Potential Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has called Common Core “a dangerous new curriculum that will only make public education worse and waste more of our money” and describing the standards, developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, as “the same old radical Progressive ideology in a new package.” 

Paul and others view the standards as a curriculum, something they are not as we and the other 295 school districts in our state work to purchase, create, and modify existing curriculum to align with the standards.  Though not an accurate picture of the standards, this curriculum argument has gained momentum.  Tea Party activists and others are mobilizing in a number of states to pull away from the standards as describe in this Washington Post article.

Though not advocating a pull back there are other organizations that are recommending flexibility and slowing down implementation as described in this Education Week article.

. . . four organizations representing district leaders called for "adequate" time to prepare teachers to teach the standards, for students to learn them, and for schools and educators to be held accountable for test scores tied to the standards. In their joint statement, the groups did not define how much time would be enough, however. "We must make adequate time for a thoughtful conversation about how assessments can be used to provide instructionally useful information to schools in a timely manner," said the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National School Boards Association.

I have not seen or heard anything in our state indicating an organized effort to pull back from the standards, but a year ago we weren't seeing the kind of coordinated effort currently playing out in states across the country.  We'll move forward with our efforts to support teachers and students and prepare them for common core assessments in 2015.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Great Father's Day . . .

Those that know me well know that I'm not much into personal holidays like my birthday and Father's Day.  I don't like the fuss unless it is for someone else.  Today, however, was a great day!  Instead of going out we worked some more on getting the pasture into shape and ended the day with rib eyes on the barbecue. Thunder, lightening, and a rain squall didn't dampen my appreciation for the day.  Son and daughter purchased everything, cooked, and for the most part cleaned up.  I also got an awesome pair of work boots from my son-in law.

Full belly and full heart as I reflect on my day with family.  I don't know what could have made it any better.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Finger pointing . . .
In this post I shared the tug of war taking place in Olympia over finding common ground for a budget.  The publicity surrounding the inability to reach agreement during the first special session has resulted in the expected finger pointing.  This Crosscut piece does a nice job of sharing the finger pointing between the Governor, House, and Senate.  It starts off with the following words.

Olympia Democrats: "We've blinked enough in 2013-2015 budget talks. It's your turn to make some concessions."

Olympia Republicans: "We blinked way before you did. So pass our budget and all will be peachy-keen."

What we have learned is that there was little budget discussion during the special session between the key players.  Though there is little difference in the $33+ billion budget proposals, there are significant differences in how to pay for them.  As always, the issue of taxes and the gap between the Senate Majority Coalition and the House Democrats has proven to thus far be insurmountable.

Governor Inslee and the House Democrats point to the Senate Majority Coalition demands for action on policy bills before considering negotiations on tax and revenue issues as a major stumbling block.

Pointing to the stalled budget talks, Inslee claimed that "the Senate majority is trying to leverage our school children to pass its ideological agenda."

However to be fair to the majority coalition, one could argue that opposing a bill is an ideological stance as well.

Theoretically, both sides could wait for the 2014 session to tackle all their stalled policy bills. But the majority coalition would not have the leverage that it does now with the main budget and a potential government shutdown. 

The policy bills high on Majority Coalition list include the following as identified in the Crosscut article.
  • Calling a November referendum on whether to limit non-education spending to an amount linked to inflation and the state's population growth. This would essentially put a cap on health, social services and corrections spending in future years while funneling most extra money to education. 
  • Calling a November referendum on a bill to require principals and teachers to mutually agree when a teacher is assigned to a new school.
  • Lowering the age, to 40, at which people are eligible to receive lump sums in workers compensation settlements, plus other tweaking of the original bill. 
  • A bill to increase the maximum amounts and interests on payday loans.
Both the House Democrats and Senate Majority Coalition believe that they have made the majority of concessions and point fingers at the other party as the reason for not reaching agreement.  The chart below from a WASA publication describing the Governor's response to needing to call a second special session provides some insight into what each side has done in an attempt to reach resolution.  It is the Governor's perception of current reality showing what he believes to be more movement by the House Democrats.

The Senate Majority Coalitions responds with the following chart to show that they have made the most concessions and are the group in the right by letting go of a higher percentage of their reform bills than the House Democrats have on revenue.

For me, I've seen enough finger pointing and want to see resolution so that we can move forward with a clear understanding of our revenue picture.  I believe that the policy bills should wait for another day and fear that when they finally achieve resolution it will include a compromise that includes some of the above policy initiatives and perhaps others that are lurking below the surface that will impact our school system. 

All of this is unfolding under the threat of a government shutdown if a new budget isn't reached by the end of the biennium at midnight on June 30th.  Though both sides say they want to avoid this the question remains of how much one or both are willing to give up to keep the fiscal wheels of state government moving.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

THS Graduation 2013 . . .

This evening was another night to take pride in being a part of this school system as we celebrated the graduation of 554 students comprising the Tahoma High School Class of 2013.  The student and adult speakers did a great job and the high school staff do an incredible job of creating a memorable evening in a comfortable time frame.  One of the highlights for me and others was Jim Berghum's speech.  Jim is one of our custodians and he had the honor of being chosen by the students as the faculty speaker.

Below are a few additional pictures that capture the joy and energy in the event.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The federal tug of war . . .

At the same time that we are watching the partisan budget setting process in Olympia, the issue of reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in Washington D.C. is once again being discussed.  Last week three pieces of legislation rewriting the act and replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) were introduced.  Unfortunately, just like the gap in the Democratic and Republican budget proposals in Olympia, there is a gulf between the competing reauthorization proposals in Washington D.C.  This picture from a blog in the National Journal shows the difference between a Republican bill and Democratic bill by the size of the legislation.  The Republican bill, intended to remove the federal government from much of the oversight, takes far fewer pages to draft.

Fawn Johnson
All three of the new bills move away form the requirement for Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) one of the key components of NCLB.  The Senate Democrats proposal allows states with waivers to use that plan for meeting the school improvement and student growth requirements of the legislation.  The Senate and House Republicans would give state's autonomy to determine school improvement and student growth accountability.  There is, however, an interesting difference in the two Republican proposals.  The Senate version would allow states to use student outcomes in teacher evaluation while the House version would require evaluations based on student outcomes.

So, the gap between the various proposals is large making the likelihood of replacing ESEA that expired I believe five years ago not likely in this session.  It does, however, if the bills reach the floor set the stage for long overdue conversations on the federal government's role in public education.  My sense is that as we get closer to Common Core implementation and assessments legislators will begin hearing more from their constituents that could influence the pace of these deliberations and a final resolution to this needed direction.  Until then, let the tug of war continue.

Graduation week . . .

Graduation week started this evening with six young men and women graduating from our Transition Program for 18-21 year olds.  We celebrated with family and friends at the Lake Wilderness Lodge, a beautiful setting for this important event.  I had the privilege of handing out diplomas to the graduates, congratulating them, and wishing them well as they transition to the next phase of their life journey.  It was an enjoyable evening made more so by the thanks and appreciation shown by the graduates.

Graduation week continues tomorrow with Tahoma High School Class of 2013 ceremonies at the White River Amphitheater.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tug of war . . .

This paragraph in the June 6th editorial in the Seattle Times captures what needs to happen if the legislature is going to meet the June 11th end of the special session.  Unfortunately, it looks like we are still in a political tug of war between the Senate Coalition and the House Democrats.

In a $33 billion budget, the differences are relatively small. Reaching a deal before the June 11 end of the 30-day special session will require compromise on the revenue side from anti-tax absolutists in the Senate Republican caucus and sacrifice from social-service and labor advocates in the House Democratic caucus.

The Senate passed a budget bill on Saturday that included some concessions on revenue, but is still insisting on education reforms before they will take action on the bills.  I have not yet seen a break down of their proposal to determine impact on our system, but will follow up this post when the comparisons are released.  Senate Democrats and  Governor Inslee view holding the revenue bills hostage for the reform measures as a step backwards.

And Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, the key budget writer for the chamber, said that the revenue-related bills won’t pass off the Senate floor “until we get the reforms that we’ve been asking for.”

“I’m all for putting more money and new money into the system, but not put it into the broken system that exists now,” he told fellow lawmakers on the Senate floor. “We need to fix that system.”

The Senate Coalition has now added a new dynamic to an already complex situation.  In this article from today's Seattle Times we learn that the Senate Coalition now wants to place their education policy reforms in a referendum before the voters.

Republican Sen. Steve Litzow said that leaders had decided to put the ideas to a referendum as a concession in budget negotiations. The Senate wants three major reform bills passed as part of a final budget compromise, but the House has not approved the policy ideas.

One of the Senate proposals would give principals the option of rejecting teachers who are appointed to their schools. Another would place limits on the rate of growth for non-education spending in the state budget.

There is also a bill to change worker's compensation in the package proposed by the Senate Coalition.  My sense is that this move will not be perceived by the Democratically controlled House as a positive step toward resolving the issues blocking the budget necessary to end this prolonged legislative session.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Movement in Olympia . . .

Things are starting to happen in Olympia as the House unveiled their budget that was developed in collaboration with Senate democrats.  With less than a week to go before the end of this special session this is an important and necessary move to preserve hope of a budget compromise without a second special session.  The released budget is less than their original budget proposal and reduces the gap with the original Senate budget.  In this WASA review of the budget it also reduces the amount of K-12 funding in their original proposal o meet the McCleary requirements.

The McCleary down payment is approximately $839 million, compared to almost $1.3 billion in the original House budget.

The House budget, though less than the previous budget, does fund in categories that support our needs.  They fund the new transportation formula and MSOC that I blogged about here.  We now wait to see how the Senate responds.  There are still gaps and differences in revenue and tax issues that need to be resolved between the two legislative bodies.  More importantly, we know that there are education and non-education reforms that the Senate Coalition expects before agreeing to any end-of-session deal.  The WASA review identifies some of these reforms measures.

Whether the Senate will concur with this plan is to be determined. It is also yet to be determined—even if the Senate is willing to adopt this budget—if the Senate will accept any budget before the House adopts a series of “reform” measures. . . however, it is clear that at least three education “reform” bills are included: A–F letter grading of schools; third grade reading intervention; and “mutual consent” (principals’ veto authority over staffing assignments).

Below is a comparison of the various budgets including this latest House version down payments on the McCleary decision.  Thee is obviously a long way to go to meet the recommendations of the Joint Task Force on Education Funding.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

From dreams to drawings . . .

This evening was another meeting of the High School Educational Specifications team with the responsibility to provide our architects with the information and direction necessary to begin the design for our new 9-12 high school.  I blogged about their work in earlier posts here , here and here .   We were pleased with the turnout of 26 committee members considering the weather, time of year, and change in meeting venue.

 One focus for the evening was on looking at options for how various functions might connect with each other to form a building footprint.  The chart below was used to identify major  building functions and the many options to consider for links to other functions in the building.

Conversations also included looking at these major functions and making decisions about how flexible the spaces could be and the square footage allocated to each.  These conversations are the beginning of making the difficult decisions necessary to design a school within a budget that makes sense in our community. Currently, the parameter is 140 sq/ft per student, slightly above the 130 sq/ft state matching allocation.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Special people . . .

At the Board meeting this evening staff were recognized for 20, 25, 30, and 35 years of service in our school system.  We also recognized eight of the fourteen retirees shown below.  This is a large number for us  retiring in the same year.  Not all those meeting the benchmark years of service or retiring attend this board meeting, instead choosing to be recognized at their end-of-year building or department event.

Honoring the retirees is always a bittersweet moment for me, but more so this year.  Two of these individuals, Bruce Zahradnik and Nancy Skerritt, were hired by me and have played significant roles in this school system and in my life.  They have been with me on this wonderful journey for over twenty years, unwavering in their support and performing multiple job functions as self-directed learners and quality producers.

I could go on for many paragraphs, but will share in a more personal context the deep appreciation and respect I have for them as co-workers and the gratitude that I have for their support, encouragement, and guidance over the years. They will always hold a special place in my heart and mind and though I will continue on our journey I do so without Nancy my co-pilot and Bruce the rock that was always there when I most needed someone beside, behind, or in front of me.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Reinforcing the need for collaboration . . .

I just left our board room where the members of the Maple Valley City Council hosted a meeting of elected officials from the city, schools, and fire and life safety organizations.  Though talked about for many years, this was the first time for what will probably become an annual event.  It was a positive experience for all in attendance, an opportunity to inform and to be informed.  David Johnston, City Manager, summed it up well when he said how the conversations reinforced how interrelated our organizations are and that future success  requires collaboration in meeting the needs of our constituencies.

The focus of what our Board decided to share was on our over crowded conditions and the need for a bond measure to create additional capacity.  We started this conversation by sharing some preliminary results from  a survey commissioned by the school system to gain insights into what community members know about our current reality and the conversations taking place on options to meet our current and future student housing needs.  Below, is one of the slides we shared.

In an answer to the question how would you grade the school system, 72% of the respondents graded A or B.  This was the second highest rating that the survey firm has experienced for a public school in Washington and Oregon.  We also learned that 70% of the respondents know of our overcrowded conditions and that 74% were influenced to move into the community because of the schools. We have much more to learn as the Board makes the critical decisions on the content and date for a bond measure.  I am also learning that we need to begin sharing more information with our staff because of the large number of people who indicated that they receive their information about our schools from staff.  So, please look and listen as we share information about our need and the options being considered.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A study to consider . . .

In Education Week Teacher I learned about a recent Gallup Poll that could influence our Future Ready thinking.  It looked at 21st century skills that contributed to quality of work later in life including collaboration, knowledge construction, global awareness, use of technology for learning, real-world problem solving, and skilled communication.  Though the poll included those between the age of 18 and 35, there is something for us to learn in the results.

Overall, the majority of the respondents (59 percent) said that the skills they use in their current jobs were developed outside of school entirely. That response was particularly prevalent among those with only high school degrees—a fact that the study's authors see as "a potential call for action to better prepare youth for work."

The study shows that, in general, the respondents who were high school graduates were far less likely to be exposed to 21st century skills in school than those with higher-level degrees. It also notes that, while the vast majority of all respondents reported having used technology in school, relatively few (14 percent) said they did so for purposes of collaboration, which Gallup calls a key aspect of "today's highly virtualized work environment."

Our Outcomes and Indicators can and do make a difference to later success in learning and work so we need to consider information like this as we continue our work.  Information such as that captured in the question below is an example of data to consider as we identify our current reality and make decisions about adjustments to better prepare our young people for success in post high school learning and work.