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Clarity of Vision & Innovation Dollars

March 9, 2012

Responses to Chaparral High School SAC questions (Vision) and Cherry Valley Elementary question (Innovation Dollars)

Chaparral High School SAC

Q: You talk about a World Class Education.  What is that and why is it important?

A: The world has changed (flat) and our students have changed (digital natives).  Our system was built for the Industrial Revolution – it was built to provide workers for the hungry industrial machine and a few highly educated leaders for other needs.  Today our country and our students have different needs.  There is a convergence in the literature and research about what those needs are.  They include the following:

  • Backward Planning (UBD, PBL…)
    • 21st Century Outcomes (4 Cs+)
    • Simultaneous (not extra) Authentic Assessments of 21st Century Outcomes
    • Sustainable Learning Strategies (stop focus on know/understand and move to focus on synthesize and create) – higher return on investment of teacher time
    • Restorative Practices – teach, don’t just punish
    • Student Advocacy – give all students the opportunity to know themselves, lifestyles, and college/career pathways.

Q: So what will we get from that?  What is the desired outcome?

A: We want every one of our students prepared to compete on a world stage for any college or career pathway they choose (every district should want).

Response- We should be shouting that from the rooftops!  (I agree! – Liz)

History – Seeing the Big Picture – The Development of our Plan and Vision for Change (LONGER VERSION)

When I arrived in July of 2010, the Board let me know that they had three goals (these were the same three goals that they outlined during my interview too).  They were (and are) universal choice, pay for performance, and measuring the most important outcomes our students develop in DCSD.  They have stayed true to these three goals and worked on them at the policy level over the past 20 months.    

As I discussed in an earlier novel, I mean email – LOL, the universal choice goal began with the board “linking” with stakeholders through the Choice Taskforce.  Linkage is an important part of Governance.  If you are interested in learning more about Governance, I’d encourage you to review John Carver’s work on effective boards.  The Choice Taskforce began before I arrived in early summer of 2010.  They developed recommendations, that ultimately, the board directed me, and my team, to study, make better (add details), and then embed in our work.   

We also had the other two board goals to integrate with the first – pay for performance, because the board knows that WE HAVE GREAT TEACHERS in DCSD and they want to PAY THEM MORE MONEY (and they want to do this the right way – not based on giving the teacher extra work to do and not based on one test on one day once per year).  The fact that the board wants to measure the most important outcomes we develop in our students was their third goal, but it aligns nicely with an updated pay for performance system because you can’t pay teachers more for developing the most important skills in our students if you don’t know what those skills are and you aren’t measuring them appropriately.

Given all those dynamics, my team (who was relatively new) and I launched into the development of a district strategic plan.  One of our responsibilities is to take the board’s policy-level goals and merge them with the unique dynamics of our school district, the continuous improvement that our students need, and create one plan.  It is our responsibility to synthesize all of this information, goals, and more into a plan that is simple to understand.  I’ve read, and I believe (agree) that good leaders take the complex and make it simple.

Therefore, we put a new strategic plan in front of our board in March 2011 that contained commitments (or promises) to our stakeholders to align the work of our large system and 3 priorities (choice, world class education, and system performance) that clearly demonstrate what we want to have for our students, staff, parents, and community.  This is, as Stephen Covey would say, beginning with the end in mind.  This work is aligned to our board’s expectations as well as the convergence in research and literature about what we need to do to make sure that our students are prepared to compete on a world stage for whatever college or career pathway of their choice.  

Cherry Valley Elementary – INNOVATION DOLLARS

Teacher Q: How can we change when our planning time grant is on the chopping block?  What about PD?

A: It’s true that we are considering the $1 M planning grant as part of our FY 2013 budget reduction.  It was always part of the blue budget reduction plan.  However, if things improve, we would love to keep it.  If we can’t keep the grant, the board, the superintendent, and several other departments are committed to using their carry forward money to support great work and excellent teachers and staff.  What that means is that if YOU want to do work that is good for our students and aligned to our plan; please work with your principal or leader to submit a request for extra funding.  We are currently paying many wonderful teachers across our district to help us develop the guaranteed and viable curriculum, high quality assessment items for our balanced assessment system, developing world class education units, and more.  This is not going to decrease – we want it to increase using one-time money since that is an appropriate (and in this case, excellent) use of one-time money.

As always, my team and I are interested in hearing your comments and questions. We would like to encourage you to direct them to the specific District department they are related to at Feedback Central. Since it has not always been feasible for me to provide detailed responses within this blog, comments and questions will be addressed by myself and my team in future meetings, blog posts and articles.