http://www.wholechildreform.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A new design for innovative schools

Guiding Principles for an innovative school design

“We are still trying to develop both the philosophy as well as a system of education which really does respect the intelligence and abilities of ordinary people” – James Anderson
The time is now for positive solutions to achieve whole child reform that truly serves all children and even some adults. It is time to develop schools within the traditional public school setting that allow teachers to teach and students to learn.  The incentive to develop such a school is the freedom for educators to take back their profession.  And since the money is the same, there is no limit to the number of schools coming on board.  Erase from your mind how schools are spozed to be and think about how schools can be to serve all kids. 

Envision a school where all students have equal access to a quality education, taught in a way that is real, taken from “where they are” to their success at their best rate.  Where learning opens doors to the dreams of every student, recognizing that no one will ever know where or when genius will unfold until it evolves. Imagine a school where assessment is not cheapened by a narrowed scope, but broadened to become a stepping stone for the whole child learning experience.  Where, as in life, learning is a constant flow of problem solving experiences driven by the reality that failure is not only an option but an integral tool guiding students on their pathway to success.    

Think about a school as a beacon of light summoning the entire community to partner for the betterment of the health and welfare of every child.  Where schools reach out to every parent seeking knowledge of their child, embracing their culture and warmly welcoming them as an integral part of the child’s learning team.  The time is now to ignite the passion for learning in all students.  
Please relate suggestions to the system and philosophy of education and leave politics and finances for another time.  Here are some thoughts on the development of a category of schools called innovative schools:
1.     Innovative schools will be exclusive to the traditional public school system.

2.     Innovative schools will have fair enrollment practices and will maintain responsibility for all students in their charge.  Students will all come into school as “students” not branded with preconceived notions.  The school will take all “comers” without selectivity and will be monitored for this.

3.     Innovative schools will utilize three assessment, already used in most schools, to assure usefull information helps drive student learning and school assessment. 

     (A)  The current state standardized test will be blended into pre and post tests so they will serve some value to students.  Information from these assessments must be valuable to the education of students and be teacher approved. (Most schools are already doing the pre and post tests.)  With short and concise assessments, individual student progress will be the defining characteristic.  i.e. 76% of the students will gain 1 year or more in reading. 

     (B)  the PCR (the proficiency completion rate) will be the primary source of academic achievement: The PCR is determined by the number of proficiencies demonstrated.  These proficiencies are developed locally and are in the student’s action plan.  These proficiencies are demonstrated in the way students best show their talents.  Students will choose how they show their skills.

     (C)  There are currently a wide variety of in school assessments determined by teachers. One of these will be the third area of assessment for federal purposes.    These assessments can range from portfolio to the QRI, a one on one reading assessment.  To assure no singular high stakes test is used to damage kids, the state test will carry no more weight than the PCR and local assessments.  With this plan "high stakes" no longer exists and "teach to the test" is neutered
   
4.     Innovative schools will develop a plan to fully involve all parents, as full partner’s, through constant contact and empowerment.   Parent members of all committees will be a vehicle to assure all voices are heard.  They will not speak for the parents but will survey all parents on a regular basis for input on essential school decisions.  A parity chart will be developed to identify parent roles in each portion of school operations.

5.     Innovative schools will develop a teacher evaluation plan that recognizes teaching as a team activity, supports teacher improvement and holds teachers responsible for a quality education program.  Student outcomes are rarely attributed to a single educator making it difficult to determine singular responsibility.  In addition there are many variables that determine the academic success of the student.   However, within the class, opportunities for the student to advance must exist and, under this new system, advancement of all students is a teacher team expectation.

6.     Innovative schools will be evaluated on inputs and outcomes.  Given the freedom to take students from “where they are” schools then will be responsible for true academic achievement based on individual goals. Every student moves forward from where they are.  The truest indicator of achievement is the PCR or Proficiency Completion Rate.  Student success on these demonstrated proficiencies will be significant on a school evaluation.  Additional assessments will be developed on the local level.  Pre and post tests, being only a snap shot in time, will carry no more weight than other assessments thus eliminating the concept of an artificial high stake test.  Additional outcomes must be verifiable.  For example, to assure accuracy on graduation rates, every student must be tracked from enrollment to the time they leave the school, including the true reason they leave.  Inputs include innovative measures designed to promote a quality education for all, such as a quality academic report, exploratory workshops and a strong early elementary support system.   

7.     Innovative schools will have an action plan for every student allowing them to progress from “where they are” on their pathway to success.  This plan will cover all aspects of the student’s educational life.  Given that students learn in different ways, an active curriculum, necessary to the success of students, will allow for learning through projects, community experiences, technology as well as a wide range of authentic activities allowing students to explore their ideas and discover solutions.  Regardless of student obstacles, expectations for the highest individual progress will be maintained.  All special needs will be addressed as part of the daily routine as all students are different. Student needs will determine time frames while Carnegie units will not be a consideration and outcomes will override minutes of seat time.  Students will progress by demonstrating proficiencies charted by the PCR rather than outdated grade levels.

8.     Innovative schools will develop goals that will take students to levels that provide readiness for higher education, a quality vocation as well as social, emotional and economic success in their community and home.  These goals will reflect the needs of the whole child in the community from local to global to the Earth’s galaxy and beyond.  Students will remain connected to their culture as their background is the base for their learning.   
  
9.     Innovative schools will let students, on an individual basis, progress as rapidly through proficiencies as they are able, be they faster or slower.  Maintaining high expectations, failure becomes a positive step toward learning and higher education becomes a partner to meet student needs as they develop through their pathway to success.  As students blossom at different times, it is an essential part of the concept of innovation that students are allowed to advance through the system by demonstrating proficiencies without the fear of catastrophic failure.  Students must clearly demonstrate proficiencies before moving on.  However, failure must be a positive learning experience leaving the opportunity to self correct at the earliest possible moment

10. Innovative schools will develop an academic progress report that tells parents and/or students what they have learned and what they will learn.  This will be directly connected to their action plan.  Statements of learning will replace letter grades to truly inform students, parents and eventually, universities of their accomplishments.

11. Innovative schools will introduce all students to skills that require higher learning.  These exploratory workshops will be presented in a manner that is clear to all students as they may then determine how to follow their dreams without preconceived notions.  Enrollment in these workshops is solely based on student interest.  No assessment will be given.

12. Innovative school locations will include traditional as well as other sites allowing students of any age to complete their traditional diploma.  This includes partnerships with higher education, businesses, community agencies, unions, job corp. etc.

13. Innovative schools will team with a community learning center with emphasis on early childhood health related issues as well as a wide range of learning experiences and support systems making the school the center of the community.such skills as learning the econimics of the home, the arts, and other hands on skills utilixed in daily life.

14. Innovative schools will provide a broadened integrated curriculum building academics into a wide variety of activities utilized in daily life such as the economics of running a home, maitaining a car and a house and the arts.

Supporters of this level of reform must be prepared.  Those who do not support the agenda of children will attack you with every fiber of their being.  If your hearts and minds are for children, you will prevail. If this is what’s best for kids, continue.  If not change it.

For more detailed ideas refer to my book "Brainstorming Common Core"  That explains why common core failed and how to fix the broken system.  http://www.WholeChildReform.com  By Cap Lee


Monday, November 28, 2011

Innovative School Design

Guiding Principles for an innovative school design

“We are still trying to develop both the philosophy as well as a system of education which really does respect the intelligence and abilities of ordinary people” – James Anderson
The time is now for positive solutions to achieve whole child reform that truly serves all children and even some adults. It is time to develop schools within the traditional public school setting that allow teachers to teach and students to learn.  The incentive to develop such a school is the freedom for educators to take back their profession.  Erase from your mind how schools are spozed to be and think about how schools can be to serve all kids.   
Please relate suggestions to the system and philosophy of education and leave politics and finances for another time.  Here are some thoughts on the development of a category of schools called innovative schools:
1.     Innovative schools will be exclusive to the traditional public school system.

2.     Innovative schools will have fair enrollment practices and will maintain responsibility for all students in their charge.  Students will all come into school as “students” not branded with preconceived notions.  The school will take all “comers” without selectivity and will be monitored for this.

3.     Innovative schools will blend the current state standardized test into approved pre and post tests.  Information from these assessments must be valuable to the education of students and be teacher approved. (Most schools are already doing the pre and post tests.)  With short and concise assessments, individual student progress will be the defining characteristic.  i.e. 76% of the students will gain 1 year or more in reading.  In determining overall student achievement, the PCR (the proficiency completion rate) will be the primary source followed by a wide variety of in school assessments.  The PCR is determined by the number of proficiencies demonstrated.  These proficiencies are developed locally and are in the student’s action plan.  To assure no singular high stakes test is used to damage kids, the pre and post test will carry less weight than the PCR and local assessments. 

4.     Innovative schools will develop a plan to fully involve all parents, as full partner’s, through constant contact and empowerment.   Parent members of all committees will be a vehicle to assure all voices are heard.  They will not speak for the parents but will survey all parents on a regular basis for input on essential school decisions.  A parity chart will be developed to identify parent roles in each portion of school operations.

5.     Innovative schools will develop a teacher evaluation plan that recognizes teaching as a team activity, supports teacher improvement and holds teachers responsible for a quality education program.  Student outcomes are rarely attributed to a single educator making it difficult to determine singular responsibility.  In addition there are many variables that determine the academic success of the student.   However, within the class, opportunities for the student to advance must exist and, under this new system, advancement of all students is a teacher team expectation.

6.     Innovative schools will be evaluated on inputs and outcomes.  Given the freedom to take students from “where they are” schools then will be responsible for true academic achievement based on individual goals. Every student moves forward from where they are.  The truest indicator of achievement is the PCR or Proficiency Completion Rate.  Student success on these demonstrated proficiencies will carry the most weight on a school evaluation.  Additional assessments may be developed on the local level.  Pre and post tests, being only a snap shot in time, will carry less weight thus eliminating the concept of an artificial high stake test.  Additional outcomes must be verifiable.  For example, to assure accuracy on graduation rates, every student must be tracked from enrollment to the time they leave the school, including the true reason they leave.  Inputs include innovative measures designed to promote a quality education for all, such as a quality academic report, exploratory workshops and a strong early elementary support system.   

7.     Innovative schools will have an action plan for every student allowing them to progress from “where they are” on their pathway to success.  This plan will cover all aspects of the student’s educational life.  Given that students learn in different ways, an active curriculum, necessary to the success of students, will allow for learning through projects, community experiences, technology as well as a wide range of authentic activities allowing students to explore their ideas and discover solutions.  Regardless of student obstacles, expectations for the highest individual progress will be maintained.  All special needs will be addressed as part of the daily routine as all students are different. Student needs will determine time frames while Carnegie units will not be a consideration and outcomes will override minutes of seat time.  Students will progress by demonstrating proficiencies charted by the PCR rather than outdated grade levels.

8.     Innovative schools will develop goals that will take students to levels that provide readiness for higher education, a quality vocation as well as social, emotional and economic success in their community and home.  These goals will reflect the needs of the whole child in the community from local to global to the Earth’s galaxy and beyond.  Students will remain connected to their culture as their background is the base for their learning.   
  
9.     Innovative schools will let students, on an individual basis, progress as rapidly through proficiencies as they are able, be they faster or slower.  Maintaining high expectations, failure becomes a positive step toward learning and higher education becomes a partner to meet student needs as they develop through their pathway to success.  As students blossom at different times, it is an essential part of the concept of innovation that students are allowed to advance through the system by demonstrating proficiencies without the fear of catastrophic failure.  Students must clearly demonstrate proficiencies before moving on.  However, failure must be a positive learning experience leaving the opportunity to self correct at the earliest possible moment

10. Innovative schools will develop an academic progress report that tells parents and/or students what they have learned and what they will learn.  This will be directly connected to their action plan.  Statements of learning will replace letter grades to truly inform students, parents and, eventually, universities of their accomplishments.

11. Innovative schools will introduce all students to skills that require higher learning.  These exploratory workshops will be presented in a manner that is clear to all students as they may then determine how to follow their dreams without preconceived notions.  Enrollment in these workshops is solely based on student interest.  No assessment will be given.

12. Innovative school locations will include traditional as well as other sites allowing students of any age to complete their traditional diploma.  This includes partnerships with higher education, businesses, community agencies, unions, job corp. etc.

13. Innovative schools will team with a community learning center with emphasis on early childhood health related issues as well as a wide range of learning experiences and support systems making the school the center of the community.

Supporters of this level of reform must be prepared.  Those who do not support the agenda of children will attack you with every fiber of their being.  If your hearts and minds are for children, you will prevail.

For more detailed ideas refer to our book Saving Students From A Shattered System, Igniting The Passion For learning.  http://www.WholeChildReform.com  By Cap Lee and Mary Gale Budzisz


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Innovative public school

Guiding Principles for an innovative school design

“We are still trying to develop both the philosophy as well as a system of education which really does respect the intelligence and abilities of ordinary people” – James Anderson
The time is now for positive solutions to achieve whole child reform that truly serves all children and even some adults. It is time to allow schools to be developed within the traditional public school setting that allows teachers to teach and students to learn. In developing and refining a list of guiding principles necessary for schools to become Innovative Schools, it is important not to be too detailed so as to leave flexibility and innovation to the local school districts.  However, we must clearly define the parameters so as to not slide back to the old way of doing things.  Erase from your mind how schools are spozed to be and think about how schools can be to serve all kids.  
Please leave your suggestions so we can refine these guiding principles and move toward a proposal to save public education.  Please relate suggestions to the system and philosophy of education and leave politics and finances for another time.  This is only step 1.  Are these principles too specific? Too general?  Did I leave something out?  Should something be added?
Here are some thoughts on the development of a category of schools called innovative schools:
1.     Innovative schools will be exclusive to the traditional public school system.

2.     Innovative schools will have fair enrollment practices and will maintain responsibility for all students in their charge.  Students will all come into school as “students” not branded with preconceived notions.  The school will take all “comers” without selectivity and will be monitored for this.


3.     Innovative schools will be exempt from the current state standardized test however they must develop a variety of assessments that demonstrate true academic achievement.  These assessments will clearly show student progress.  A wide range of assessments, valuable to students, must be as authentic as possible and demonstrated in a way that is real to the student.
 
4.     Innovative schools will develop a plan to fully involve all parents, as full partners, through constant contact and empowerment.   Parent members of all committees will be a vehicle to assure all voices are heard.  A parity chart will be developed to identify parent roles in each portion of school operations.


5.     Innovative schools will develop a teacher evaluation plan that recognizes teaching as a team activity, supports teacher improvement and holds teachers responsible for a quality education program.  Student outcomes are rarely attributed to a single educator making it difficult to determine singular responsibility.  In addition there are many variables that determine the academic success of the child.   However, within the class, opportunities for the student to advance must exist and, under this new system, advancement of all students is a teacher team expectation.

6.     Innovative schools will be evaluated on inputs and outcomes including true academic achievement, recognizing that student gains are measured by demonstrated learning with individual progress charted.  Every student moves forward from where they are.  While there are many variables to student learning, the school must be designed to meet individual needs.  Given the freedom to take students from where they are schools then will be responsible for true academic achievement based on individual goals.  Additional outcomes must be verifiable i.e for graduation rates, every student must be tracked from enrollment to the time they leave the school.

 
7.     Innovative schools will have an action plan for every student allowing them to progress from where they are on their pathway to success.  This plan will cover all aspects of the student’s educational life.  Given that students learn in different ways, an active curriculum, necessary to the success of students, will allow for learning through projects, community experiences, technology as well as a wide range of authentic activities allowing students to explore their ideas and discover solutions.  Regardless of student obstacles, expectations for the highest individual progress will be maintained.  All special needs will be addressed as part of the daily routine as all students are different.  Student needs will determine timeframes while Carnegie units will not be a consideration and outcomes will override minutes of seat time.

8.     Innovative schools will develop goals that will take students to levels that provide readiness for higher education, a quality vocation as well as social, emotional and economic success in their community and home.  These goals will reflect the needs of the whole child in the community from local to global to the Earth’s galaxy and beyond.  Students will remain connected to their culture as their background is the base for their learning.  

  
9.     Innovative schools will let students, on an individual basis, progress as rapidly through proficiencies as they are able, be they faster or slower.  Maintaining high expectations, failure becomes a positive step toward learning and higher education becomes a partner to meet student needs.  Students will develop through their pathway to success.  As students blossom at different times, it is an essential part of the concept of innovation that students are allowed to advance through the system by demonstrating proficiencies without the fear of catastrophic failure.  Students must clearly demonstrate proficiencies before moving on.  However, failure must be a positive learning experience leaving the opportunity to self correct at the earliest possible moment

10.                        Innovative schools will develop an academic progress report that tells parents and/or students what they have learned and what they will learn.  This will be directly connected to their action plan. 
11. Innovative schools will introduce all students to skills that require higher learning without assessment.  These exploratory workshops will be presented in a manner that is clear to all students as they may then determine how to follow their dreams without preconceived notions.  Enrollment in these workshops is solely based on student interest.

12. Innovative school locations will include traditional as well as other sites allowing students of any age to complete their traditional diploma.  This includes partnerships with higher education, businesses, community agencies, job corp. etc.


13. Innovative schools will team with a community learning center with emphasis on early childhood health related issues as well as a wide range of learning experiences and support systems making the school the center of the community.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Learning in the community

Learning in the Community

Kids learn in different ways and demonstrate learning in different ways.  With this in mind it becomes essential to tie learning to experiences familiar to the students.  Currently we are chasing our tails trying to fit all kids into a tiny standardized box full of word games and math riddles.  This is no longer desirable as it has proven to have failed time and time again.  To make learning real, it must begin at the front door of the school and move outward to wherever it takes us.  This can be done in reality as well as virtual.  Here I will focus on the real aspect of taking kids into the community as well as bringing community members into the school.  We began at our Milwaukee Village School (a Milwaukee Public School 1995 - 1998) by mapping the neighborhood, diagramming streets as well as identifying businesses in the area.  Most amazing is the number of businesses in the immediate vicinity that are willing to support schools with their thoughts and actions, and they are often within walking distance of the school. 
We begin with the selection of business partners, no longer those chosen for their financial contributions to schools, but those who can contribute based on the needs of kids to learn and thrive in their community.    
The need to develop good reading skills in all students is of great concern to every school.  To this end we look to the neighborhood for a local bookstore as a partner.  Carla Allison and her Readers Choice bookstore became a phenomenal partner to the Milwaukee Village School.  Not only were kids introduced to books by visiting her store, many projects were developed through Carla’s participation at the school.  Students were introduced to entrepreneurship and taught how to develop a business and  they developed a book club, getting a grant to purchase books from the store to support student reading at every level.  Think of the possibilities for other creative activities.
One of the most exciting partnerships was our relationship with farmer Will Allen.  We introduced Will to our kids and it was the beginning of a great educational relationship.  Interested students learned in Will’s greenhouse by growing food, nurturing it and passing it on to those in the community.  This whole concept began with our effort to beautify the neighborhood.  I will never forget the student who was in charge of beautifying the day care she was assigned to.  When phone calls came from local officials or community members about that project, the calls went to her, not to a staff member.  Students were put in the lead. From this beginning, Will developed “Growing Power” Inc.  www.growingpower.org  and become an international authority educating people on the value of good nutrition and quality food.  And our students blossomed, not through taking a test but by real learning.
Think of other possibilities creative partnerships would create.  Our relationship with the Black Health Coalition led to our students planning and fully developing an anti smoking campaign including running a conference.  Our partnership with MATA media, the local public access television station, had students doing a great English lesson around a public service announcement that went on the air.  The AODA, a program to get kids away from alcohol and drugs had our kids boarding a bus in Milwaukee to go to Boston to see the whales, a trip that the students chose.    And the bus company was also our partner.  Because they were from the neighborhood, they could direct us to new small businesses in the neighborhood that could support our efforts.
The Village school was short lived however, the ideas go on forever.  How many ideas do you have to make learning real? 
Visit our website at http://www.WholeChildReform.com
Cap Lee

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Quashing the new status quo

In the song "Trouble at the Bottom" Pete Seeger sings:  “Some say the trouble's with the principal; some say the trouble's with the kids; some say the trouble's the curriculum; where’s the trouble at the bottom?”  Well, here it is:  The current system of education was developed in the 18th century, during slavery, by Thomas Jefferson who declared its purpose as “Raking a few geniuses from the rubbish”. Does this sound like a school plan to serve everyone?  Under NCLB this failed system has not only been accepted but strengthened.  It's failure at every level is clear yet we use every excuse imaginable to maintain the new status quo.

There are many real obstacles that impede student success that must be addressed.  The effects of poverty, poor student health and nutrition, dysfunctional homes, low expectations and many others affect a student’s ability to succeed in school.  We must put a full frontal attack on all of these issues.  The reality is no matter how hard we attack these problems; until they go away many students, under the current system, will fail! We must, however, deal with the realities of today.  We must understand that once the student enters school, it is necessary to block from our minds any obstacles to assure they don’t turn into excuses. We must adapt our approach to students to allow them to move forward at their own best rate.


Significant to the success or failure of students is the fact that they blossom at different times.  Even if all obstacles are resolved, students will still learn in different ways with different needs while travelling a different pathway to their future. That’s just the way it is!  In the current system those who move faster are held back, pacified with A’s while learning remains at a standstill.  Those who move slower are treated as “rubbish”, failed into oblivion. School becomes a track meet where the first ones win and the last ones lose.  Of significance is that when the last ones lose, they lose big.  One failure builds upon another until students have lost all hope and eventually leave school. The current system of education does not take the concepts of human growth and development and student differences into consideration when it demands that every student be proficient at the same time, learning in the same way, and demonstrating that learning on an artificial test.  Like the Stepford Kids we demand that students are “educationally pure”.  When we push kids out of school in this manner, they are relegated to the poverty class for the rest of their lives.  The class system in this country is determined when students are 15 and 16 years old and younger.  After all, how far can they go without a high school diploma?  This is not only unethical, it is immoral!



Why do we maintain a system where students are ranked for failure?  There are many reasons:

Ø  Those in power might very well be comfortable with the students who are succeeding as well as those who drop into the subclass. Why rock the boat when “my kids” are doing well and “someone else’s kids” are failing?  This was certainly true when the current system was developed. 

Ø  Others see the current process as a simple way to rank students, just give them a test no matter how artificial and we can have quick simple answers. 

Ø  Then there are those who are supporting those students who are not doing well and just want to prove to the world that they can succeed.  Not realizing the intensity of the artificial set up, these educators are driving kids like lemmings to the sea, only to fall off the cliff as blind pride leads the way.  These educators must develop more faith in the students they are supporting that once the system truly serves them, a new group of achievers will rise to the greatest levels of success.

Ø  There are others who are perpetuating the racist belief that all poverty kids are poor learners and “my school has all poverty kids and is succeeding, replicate us”.  The reality is there is diversity among those considered in poverty.  Most are devastated by it's effects but some rise to the occassion bolstered by strong support systems.  The best way to get a good school in today’s system is to take the best scoring students and push out the worst.  To get a fantastic school, take the best scoring poverty kids and push out the worst.  This leaves the false perception that the system is fine.  Just hold my school as an example and all should follow.

Ø  There are yet others who say that competition makes students work harder.  Of course some work harder at getting better grades but do they work harder at learning?  These are two completely different goals.  In order to get better grades a different set of skills are used than those needed for true learning.  For example, students often prepare for a test to be given 4th period by studying in their 3rd period class utilizing short term memory to accomplish their goal.  Others use their skill as test takers to find success.  Have you ever heard someone say they were just better at taking tests, or they aren’t very good at taking tests?  Here’s a reality check.  Short term memory is not long term learning and those who are not good at test taking are not stupid.  In fact they may be smarter than the “book learned” geniuses who do well on the test.  Many other test taking skills allow students to progress without gaining knowledge needed for their future.

Ø  Yet others declare that the problem is poverty and throw up their hands saying there is nothing we can do about it.  They also maintain the new status quo.  They are certainly correct that poverty is a roadblock to many but the reality is this problem hasn’t been resolved in the last 40 years and it will be difficult to resolve in the next 20.  What do we do today?  Again we tackle all the social problems including poverty with early interventions, health care and a multitude of other supports. Diane Ravitch speaks of these in detail and her words must be followed by actions by our educational leaders. One intervention that isn’t considered and should be is to change the system of education taking students "from where they are".  If they are slowed by the effects of poverty, we wait for them allowing them to advance at their own best rate, in the way they learn the best and the way they best demonstrate learning.  We must stop the cycle of poverty caused by an antiquated school system and allow students a pathway to success.  A single plan won't override the devastating effcts of the many social problems, but an even playing field combined with an approach to students that respects their intelligence and abilities will make success possible.  And this can be done today.

There are many reasons and agendas that keep students down through an antiquated system of education. We should all stop for a moment and think about it.  If our goal is to educate all children, what is the purpose of demanding that they are all at the same place, learning in the same way?  Developing a system that takes “every child from where they are” is the only solution to the problem.  This concept will allow students to move through the system as fast as they are capable by demonstrating proficiencies.  How will this help those who are moving slower? They will be in school (a novel concept) because hope will always be just around the corner and learning will be real. If they pass proficiency they move on and if they don’t they will be able to take that assessment again as soon as they are ready.  The next proficiency will always be right in front of them as a success rather than light years away as a failure. This allows students to learn from their failure rather than move on with a D- or fail miserably.  And, as important, they will be able to demonstrate what they know in the way they do it best.  Rather than struggling through an antiquated test, students will actually be able to show they can DO something.  Learning becomes real and standards, developed locally, become guidelines for success rather than deadlines for failure.

The systems are now available to put an abrupt halt to this NCLB travesty.  However, those who choose to make these changes must be prepared for the most difficult times of their professional lives.  Most people do not want all students to learn.  Protecting their turf, those who are focused on their own greed will attack these changes with every fiber of their being.  To make the changes necessary to serve all children will take a phenomenal effort on the part of all concerned.  But together we can move mountains!

Cap Lee