Friday, December 11, 2009

Climbing to standards, twice over

In the balanced assessment discussion, there's a regular emphasis on:
  • Short, clear, high standards that are widely shared.
  • Local, hands-on work to break each standard down into smaller steps, done locally so that the people who will implement understand how the parts fit together.
  • Helping students see--early and often-- where they stand on those steps.
  • Ensuring that students see how to climb higher.
  • Working constantly to figure out the best way to help them climb.
When I try to sort through an effective model for building teaching quality, the ideas I find most convincing emphasize:
  • Clear, high, brief statewide standards for effective teachers and leaders.
  • District-level development of specific evaluation procedures, done locally to build hand-on understanding and support for implementing those procedures.
  • Setting the system up so that all the affected educators can identify which needed strengths they currently have.
  • Setting the system up so those same educators can see clearly how to become even stronger at their craft.
  • Expecting school leaders to work pretty much continuously on helping other educators build those needed capacities.
Yes, I see a deep parallel in the two designs, and I wrote those descriptions to highlight that. With stronger teaching, we could hugely reduce our current student achievement gaps. With stronger efforts on professional growth, we could have much more consistent teaching quality.

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