Investing In Student Achievement
If we want to invest in the prosperity of our nation, we must invest in the education of our children so that their talents may be fully employed. ~ William J. Clinton
Have you ever noticed how some of your friends and relatives save money throughout the year in order to provide gifts or donations during the month of December? Some people open a gift account at a local bank which allows them to have monthly direct deposits made into a special account. Others make purchases when they see sales at stores and online throughout the year. The majority of Americans are last minute Christmas shoppers. During the next two weekends, you will see people in a frenzy running through the mall, paying extra for express shipping, seeking a second job to pay for the gifts, and trying to stretch their December paycheck until January 1.
When I observe the spending patterns of Christmas shoppers, it reminds me of the education practices in most school districts. Let me explain how this same investment and spending process looks in the typical school district.
If December 25 marks the end of the year or the day that shoppers must make their final purchases, June is the equivalent of Christmas day for teachers and administrators. If a community member visits a local school in June, he or she will observe celebrating and sadness. In June, educators reflect on the past school year and they celebrate the success of students who were promoted to the next grade level. Educators also struggle with mixed emotions in June, because some students are not promoted. The best educators that I have met and worked with struggle with celebrating the end of the school year, because they always ask “Could we have done more?”
If you have ever tried to purchase Christmas gifts for your friends, family, neighbors, and others with your December paycheck you know how difficult it is to make ends meet for the rest of the month. You may ask, “Could I have saved $25 per month or invested some money along the way, rather than waiting to purchase gifts with my last paycheck of the year?” Investing our money in order to spread holiday cheer is rewarding. Investing also allows us to spread our earnings to Homeless Shelters, the American Red Cross, the PTA, and other organizations which depend on charitable donations.
Investing in Student Achievement
When we reflect on the past decade in education, we see how high-stakes testing has led to a series of detrimental effects on teaching and learning. In several schools, test prep during the final two months of school is the equivalent of last minute Christmas shopping. The reality is that investing in high quality teaching and learning opportunities monthly would yield higher interest and student results. As we end 2010, let’s take a moment to reflect on what is important in our schools.
Five Ways To Invest In Student Achievement
1. Identify Essential Learning Outcomes
2. Develop a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum
3. Write Essential Questions
In Order to Support Student Understanding of the Essential Learning Outcomes
4. Teach What Matters Most
See UbD/Schooling by Design (Wiggins & McTighe) and Power Standards: Identifying the Standards That Matter the Most (Ainsworth)
5. Assess What Matters Most
We know that each school year ends in June. We also know that December 25 marks a time for gift giving in many communities. We can rush to give students a great ending each year in May and June or we can choose to make daily, weekly and monthly investments. When it comes to student achievement, last minute shopping for a good program, product, process, or sale will only make us tired and frustrated. What is your school district investing in and how is it impacting student achievement throughout the year?