Promising legislation (The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015–ESSA) brings much anticipation that our educational system(s) will improve “dramatically”. I am pleased that states have been given more autonomy in deciding the parameters (i.e. framework) for initiating educational reforms in our classrooms, school districts and (hopefully) university teacher-preparation programs. A word of caution: “We” must have accountability measures in place or “failure is certain”!
We need a comprehensive framework which will permit all stakeholders to develop reform measures that align with “our” collective vision for initiating change. Without a collective vision, I fear that yet another round of piecemeal (let’s try this) reform strategies will burden hardworking practitioners. “Mandates” are ineffective regardless of their origin (i.e. Federal or State). Therefore, we must initiate school reforms via an interconnected (Democratic) framework of “local” and “regional” advisory (i.e. steering) committees that can inform policy makers employed by the Department of Education in each state. Learn more about this concept; sample/purchase: “Becoming A Reflective Practitioner” @ http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/312599
Furthermore, initiating a greater variety of student-centered learning while ensuring that students acquire the competencies required to “succeed” in a 21st century village compels stakeholders to move beyond the use of standardized assessments as the sole measure of accountability for student learning. In addition to employing “traditional” assessment devices to verify the acquisition of fundamental competencies, practitioners and policy advocates must give adequate consideration to evaluating higher-order thought processes via portfolio assessments. Prior to implementing such reforms, “we” must examine “our” established curriculum to bring about a “collective vision” regarding how each component within the curriculum ought to be implemented.
The evaluation process is relatively simple! Is the nature of this curriculum (regardless of the subject matter) technical or non-technical? When the curriculum is technical in nature; teacher-centered instructional paradigms ought to be initiated. However, non-technical curriculums are conducive to the implementation of student-centered learning. Evaluation (i.e. accountability) mechanisms including the standardized measures and/or projects that were employed to verify specific competencies may be included in the portfolio of each student. The variety of materials that may be exhibited within the unique portfolio that is created by each individual can only be imagined by those with vision. Learn more about initiating student-centered and teacher-centered curriculum; sample/purchase: “The Dichotomy of Instructional Design” @ http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/314098
Much work has yet to be accomplished! Practitioners must be nurtured in communities where action research is being conducted to perpetuate innovations in teaching and learning. They must be provided with opportunities to examine their use of instructional practices and they must be continuously provoked to induce philosophical perspectives that result in innovative outcomes. The manuscripts suggested above will provide practitioners with the means to bring about the promise that our recent legislation offers. Cease the Day!