I have the pleasure today of attending and presenting at the Statewide Educator Conference at Keene State College, in Keene, NH. Thus far, the highlight has been the unveiling of a new approach to school improvement by our Commissioner of Education, Ginny Barry. Recently our state was given a waiver from the USDOE to put aside No Child Left Behind strictures and emphasize an improvement model for our schools.
Dr. Barry acknowledges two truisms in our field:
- Understanding human growth and development may be the most complex task our society is asked to do, yet educators are faced with the need to not only understand it but measure it in a way that shows our success as schools and proficiency as individual educators.
- NCLB was built as a deficit model. When nearly 80% of New Hampshire schools would be labeled as failing under that plan, we needed a new paradigm for assessing and improving our schools. Our hope is that the waiver will give our state new life.
Adam Rubin, of consulting firm 2Revolutions, was clear in his assessment that our world of education is changing. While students have had avenues to careers in farming, manufacturing, and retail, it was clear that the college bound students were the ones that succeeded. However, with the cost of higher education becoming inaccessible for many students, we need to find a new model to prepare students K-16 to succeed in their careers.
This conference is designed to begin the process for many schools to consider the knowledge. skills, and work study practices needed to prepare of students to be college and career ready. It’s a tall order.
My workshop today centers on Web 2.0 tools and the mental shift that educators have to make to utilize technology not as an end in itself but an avenue to rich tasks and student understanding of content embedded in the Common Core and other important standards. However,I always preach the warning that technology initiatives have to improve upon the instructional, curricular, or assessment practices we already value.
More to come.