By Aaron Spence, Virginia Beach City Public Schools, and Ken Kay, EdLeader21
Aaron Spence [left] and Ken Kay [right].
Some of the most exciting and impactful work happening in school systems across the country is around the development of a Portrait of a Graduate, a collective vision articulating a community’s aspirations for all students. We have observed a growing energy and interest in the Portrait of a Graduate among superintendents and other district leaders nationwide. In fact, the cover story of the August 2018 issue of American School Board Journal featured the stories of school systems that are implementing a Portrait of a Graduate.
As more school systems explore the development of a Portrait of a Graduate, we wanted to share 5 lessons we have learned in working with leaders of districts aspiring to prepare their students for 21st century challenges.
When students have a plan, they are more likely to execute on it and align their postsecondary path with their life goals. And when students are engaged in school, they are more likely to persist, get better grades and stay out of trouble. An increased focus on college, career and life readiness for K-12 schools has created an urgency for districts to implement, track and report outcomes related to college and career readiness.
Because of this, we are seeing an emergence of tools designed to help districts with their CCLR initiatives. These products come at various price points and assist with a variety of readiness needs. When evaluating a CCLR solution, it is important to know what you are getting, what you are measuring, and how your student data will be used.
July is always a special time for AASA. Hundreds of superintendents across the country—some of the sharpest minds in public education—gathered in the nation’s capital last week to discuss some of the most critical issues in public education as part of our annual Legislative Advocacy Conference.
The meeting marked three days of invaluable conversation focusing on such hot-button issues as school safety, appropriations, career and technical education, the Higher Education Act, teacher shortages, IDEA and Medicaid. AASA members—individuals I often refer to as “champions for children”—made their voices heard by visiting members of Congress from their respective districts and states to share opinions on these important matters.
George Mason Commencement Address by Daniel Domenech
My sincere congratulations to all of you for achieving yet another milestone in your education careers and my gratitude for your willingness to be leaders in our profession. Leadership is the theme of my address to you today. At a time when the quality of our educational systems seems to be under attack, endangering the future of public education, I look towards you with high hopes that you will lead us to make the changes that will transform education to meet the demands of the twenty-first century.
Let me say something that I am sure you have heard many times from your professors here at George Mason. There is a significant difference between managing and leading. I have no doubt that you have mastered the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage your classrooms, schools, and the departments you may now direct or will direct in the future. It is essential that every school administrator be an excellent manager and administrator. That is a given.
I am here, however, to exhort you to be more. I am here to beg you to be the leaders that will transform education as we know it today. To be the leaders that will see a student as something more than a score on a test. To be the leaders that understand that a child cannot learn if he or she comes to school hungry, or sick, or abused at home, or homeless or lacking any adult supervision. Or that the immigration police will arrest their parents and send them back to a country they have never known. Or children that fear that someone will walk into their school with a gun and shoot them. Be the leaders willing to provide all children with the safe and secure environment they are entitled to and with the opportunities they need to succeed.
As we continue to observe this month’s 64th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that struck down segregation in public schools, we must be mindful that much work still needs to be done on behalf of the millions of children growing and learning in our classrooms.
To quote Chief Justice Warren:
“In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he (or she) is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”
I couldn’t agree more.
We are now at a time when our schools are being torn apart by gun violence. We’re at a time when more than 50 percent of the children attending our schools are living in impoverished conditions. We’re at a time when we must scale up the dialogue in our country that we view every public school as the foundation of our communities.
From my May 2018 column in the School Administrator:
TIME CONTINUES to be a major regulator in education. The number of days a student must attend school is specified by law, usually around 180 days per school year. In many cases, the number of hours a student must be in school also is mandated, as are the hours in attendance required to get credit for a course.
These requirements came about with the best of policymakers’ intentions. Children could not learn if they were not in school and in the classroom, so we thought.
Today’s technology makes it possible for a student to learn any place and any time if there is a Wi-Fi connection. Nevertheless, the place and time requirements are still in place. Programs of study will specify a content that must be mastered at a particular grade level during the course of the school year. Children who exhibit mastery get promoted to the next grade level. The students who do not get to repeat the grade — not just the areas where they failed to achieve, but the entire grade content.
Managing Class Conduct Nonverbally By Daniel A. Domenech/School Administrator, April 2018
CLASSROOM CIVILITY can depend greatly on classroom management. Those of us who have spent time in the classroom fully recognize that little learning will take place in an out-of-control classroom.
In “The Key to Classroom Management” article in Educational Leadership (September 2003), Robert Marzano says research has shown us that “teachers’ actions in their classrooms have twice the impact on student achievement as do school policies regarding curriculum, assessment, staff collegiality and community involvement.”
Many strategies are available to teachers. I recently came upon a program that Pillager Elementary School in central Minnesota is implementing in their classrooms with impressive results. It is a classroom management model that combines nonverbal communication for both teaching and managing. The Pillager School District is within the region serviced by the National Joint Powers Alliance, a service agency with cooperative purchasing nationwide and one of AASA’s premier partners. NJPA is funding the training of Pillager staff in the use of the ENVoY nonverbal classroom management system.
AASA’s National Conference on Education officially kicks off this week and I am pleased to report that the 2018 edition will be our largest convening in more than 10 years. This tells me that more and more superintendents and other public school administrators across the country are eager to learn from one another, trade strategies, and discuss what is working on behalf of the more than 50 million students who are attending our public schools.
(Pictured from left to right: David Schuler, Amy Sieu, Daniel Domenech, Wendy Robinson, Mike Winstead.)
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, recently announced the four finalists for the 2018 Superintendent of the Year, a program graciously sponsored by VALIC and First Student. This is our opportunity to showcase four champions for children and put outstanding school district leaders from communities large and small on the national stage. It marks a time to place the spotlight on the superintendency — a profession I often say is the most difficult job in America, yet the most rewarding.
Whether you are in Scotland or in the U.S., the educational systems have many similarities. They include regulations, funding, hiring, teacher shortages, and the effects these issues have on teaching, learning, and ultimately student achievement. Traditional teaching and innovation are dispersed throughout Scotland as is the use of technology—quite similar to the diversity in educational approaches in our schools. We visited some very creative and personalized classrooms where students were actively engaged.
We had an opportunity to view private schools that were the very best that money can buy. We also viewed government schools that were not as fortunate. In many cases, however, the schools with limited funding still produced amazing results. We saw, as we see at home, that funding and resources can be critical in leveling the playing field.