The California Business for Educational Excellence organization, along with the Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute at CSU Fresno hosted a town hall meeting in Fresno yesterday which I attended. President Jim Lanich began the two hour session sharing this information.
- Business CEOs are not happy with the achievement level of students in California
- Business surveys reveal that education, along with health care are a top priority
- Education is shifting from an “I gotcha” mentality to a “can do” attitude.
- Students who are “below basic” according to the state standards test tend to remain in the “below basic” category throughout their school career.
- Overall, what works? High expectations of mastery for every student.
- The most important thing that causes teachers to change and to look at data are talking with one another (The most effective professional development is when teachers can visit other schools and talk with other teachers as opposed to words of inspiration from a leader/principal).
The organization has researched test scores and a reviewed a variety of data and found that there are five things they have learned:
- Data drives and informs improvement
- Common myths and excuses are dispelled
- Visits to high performing schools cause teachers to learn what works (The KEY! Need to get out of your own environment and look at others.)
- Productive, organized and focused grade level meetings (Litmus test – are they a “team” or a “silo”…are they collaborating? A visit to any school will tell you this.)
- Targeted assistance that supports improvement, based on a goal.
This organization came to the conclusion that before further improvement can occur, that the data needs to be available to be seen. They have put all of the data from the state standards test into a data system that can generate a variety of graphs and charts including how one school compares with others of like demographics, how targeted groups such as Latinos or African-Americans are achieving as compared to other schools with similar demographics. The website that does this is called Just for Kids and here a few of the graphs that can be generated:
Also on the website is the “Best Practices framework” which is linked to “best practices” in key areas of education. And, they have begun recognizing schools in California that are high poverty and are high achieving on their yearly honor roll of excellence.
All states should be doing this… and maybe they are? It is nice to know that the California business community is on the forefront of helping to improve education in California by providing this useful information for all educators!