The education community is a-buzz. Everyone's up in arms about everything, from standardized testing, to unions, to compensation and incentives, to curriculum, to qualification, to public vs. charter or private, to reform, to whatever. It seems pretty clear that everyone has an opinion on what's wrong and great ideas on how to fix the system.
But in all of the content [Eduwonk Dan Brown @ Huffington, David Brooks, Eduwonk, Washington Post], I scanned on this topic in the last day, no-one's come up with a statement or definition or concept or suggestion for what success looks like.
This "Ready-Fire-Aim" approach isn't going to get anyone (least of all our children) anywhere. I'm reminded of Elton John's lyrics:
If we're all going somewhere let's get there soon
Oh this song's got no titles just words and a tune
This is what all this feels like - words and tunes, but no title - randomness.
My background is in Corporate America, and one thing I've learned in that world is that you can do a whole lot of intellectual masturbation, and while it might feel good, you're not getting things done. No outcome is created. And even if you do accidentally fall into an outcome, you have no capacity to judge whether it's good or bad!
We all have a tendency to jump right into the solving part without first stating the outcome part. The definition of success should be simple, easy to understand, clearly measurable, and objective (i.e. the system can not be self-fulfilling).
Scoping this to Kindergarten --> Grade 12 (K-12), I see the definition as:
- 100% Student Success - measured by every child, irrespective of economic status, disability, gender, race, etc. successfully graduating.
- Academic Capacity - measured by the graduates' performance in tertiary education.
- Life Capacity - measured by the graduates' ability to be economically self-sustaining two years after graduation.
In order. It is the job of the school to help every individual child who enters the system successfully complete their journey, not vice versa. The schools performance in teaching is judged by how its graduates perform in their next academic stage (university, college, etc.) compared to other schools. For those that don't choose an academic next stage, it is the schools job to prepare that student for success in the workforce, measured by their ability to earn a family wage. For more detail.
This is where the debate should begin.