Saturday, November 27, 2010

A compelling vision grows clearer

In 2000, Bob Sexton authored a great piece on "Engaging Parents and Citizens in School Reform," including this clear point on Prichard Committee strategy:
After the [1990] reform passed, reminding people about the original problem became the challenge. The strategy was to remind people about Kentucky’s historically low educational level and inject into the public bloodstream a compelling new vision —that of all children learning at high levels.
For 2010, I think that strategy still fits well, with three helpful changes in the terrain in which we need to apply it:
  • With the new Common Core standards, "learning at high levels" can be defined much more specifically as "becoming college and career ready."
  • The confidence that students can learn at those high levels can now be based on more complete statements of how can happen, grounded in the "sunlit vision" of assessment for learning practices that move students toward those standards.
  • The confidence that teachers can deliver that high level of learning can now be based on more concrete statements  about how working in teams organized as professional learning communities, educators can help all teachers grow increasingly effective in their chosen craft.
Of course, achieving that vision will require that Kentucky implement the standards, apply the assessment for learning practices, and cultivate those professional learning communities: that's the work immediately ahead of us all.   Still, it's good to see the strategy as still sound and the vision as actually growing stronger after another decade of work.

Source note: Bob's essay appeared in All Children Can Learn, edited by Roger Pankratz and Joseph Petrosko and published by Jossey-Bass.  Paperback and Kindle versions are available here, and most (though not quite all) of Bob's chapter is available on-line here.

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