Question from the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederattion:
"Do you support all elements of the district’s four goals? What specific experience and skill do you bring to the table to help achieve them? If you don’t agree with any of them, please explain why and what you would try to do to change the goal."
The question posed is would I support a change in our goals? The answer is always yes, as long as it works to set us in a positive direction.
Each year the board has a retreat to discuss our district goals. There were 25 District Goals when I first started on the board. Within one year, we had a new Superintendent, Dr. Kathryn Birkett and she advised us to narrow them down to six. We now have four that provide our superintendent, administrators and staff clear expectations:
- Help each student achieve academically
- Hire and retain a high quality, effective teaching staff
- Manage resources efficiently and effectively
- Be student and community focused
(Complete Goal Descriptions can be found on the district website.)
Discussion of our goals is thorough. When we land, we land as a team. These goals have provided us a consistent measure for the superintendent and the board's work. With a 329 to 1 ratio of students to administrators, this focus is essential.
The four district goals are also reflected in the Superintendent's contract and her evaluation process. It is important to recognize that the primary role of a school board is to ensure the right person is leading the district. Having consistent measures to use to evaluate her performance and the performance of the board, has made us a better district.
However, the most difficult goal to measure is our achievement goal. We have had to struggle with some moving parts in the past six years with the adoption of the Common Core standards and resulting curriculum and test changes. (Math, ELA, and Science curriculums, a transition from ISAT to fluid PARCC assessments, and the coming transition to the SAT from the ACT at the high school level).
The good news is that an innovative and more comprehensive approach for measuring student success, called “Redefining Ready” is getting a great deal of attention across the nation. Dr. Schuler from District 214 in the Northwest suburbs initiated the approach:
Schuler's initiative proposes that schools use multiple measurements, including completion of Advanced Placement and dual credit courses, AP exam scores, community service hours, career interest identification and co-curricular participation. (Chicago Tribune, 2/2/2016)
The point is: “Our students our more than a test score.” In their literature the authors’ state:
“Our nation’s teachers and school leaders provide students with rigorous academic programs, personalized and career-specific learning experiences, along with social and emotional skills that prepare them to be global citizens in an ever-changing world. Students learn in a variety of ways. Therefore, they should be able to demonstrate readiness in a variety of ways.” Redefining Ready
When we consider changes to goals, we need to be deliberative, but we also need to look if we are measuring the true indicators of success. For too long, a test score has been that measure. It should not be one measure. As the state begins to consider how they will implement ESSA, they too will be considering a more comprehensive approach. This is a good move.