In the last few years, I have noticed districts and schools have made much more compelling visions of what school could become for students in our world today. You will read words in vision statements like “empowered” and “inspired,” but you will never read “compliant” and “demotivated.” Those words aren’t as catchy and compelling.
But how powerful is a new vision if the measures stay the same? If you want to empower students, do you think compliance amongst your staff is going to make this happen? Of course, no matter how empowered one is, there will always be elements of compliance in a job, but are they the norm or the exception? But if you say, “we are more than test scores!” to your public, but always highlight improvements or drops in those scores as your main measures, do you think people care about your vision?
I hear “We value collaboration!” while I see schools filled with individual awards for students and teachers.
In my career, I have seen more and more how assessment often drives teaching, not the other way around. Now, I am starting to see how that same evaluation drives the work we do, not necessarily the vision.
You can create a compelling new vision, but if what you show as measures of success (or lack thereof) stay the same and focus on the “old way,” not much will change.
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