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Fastest Growing State in Education

October 7, 2013

The fastest growing state in the nation in education.  What does that statement mean to you?  My hope is that it sparks images of students who want to come to school, students who own their learning and are not dependent on a singular person standing in the front of the room for their success, and of students researching, applying, and innovating information where every student has access to 1-to-1 technology (one device for every child).

The fastest growing state in the nation in education.  Students are critical thinkers.  They seek out information without having to wait on a teacher to dispense it.  Students work to ascertain what information is important, legitimate, and useful.  Students then take this content they have decoded and apply the information, plus use the information to innovate new ideas and solutions to defined and undefined problems.

The fastest growing state in the nation in education.  Students have learned how to work together, not just be together.  Students know how to lead and how to be led.  Students are capable of working with varied individuals to develop a successful product.

I live in Tennessee.  Here is the current definition…

The fastest growing state in the nation in education means that Tennessee moves from the bottom group of states on standardized testing to the middle or top group of states.

I live in Tennessee.

Test scores, not quality student developed products, are the judge of teacher effectiveness.  Teachers must make sure that students can work in silent isolation to pick the correct answer choice from four choices.  Teachers must make sure students have seen all potential content on the tests (regardless of depth of understanding) and have good test taking skills.  Teachers do not want creativity in students.  Creativity does not improve testing scores, standardization does.  The high stakes assessments are called standardized tests for a reason.

I live in Tennessee.

Success is defined as having a student answer more questions correct on this year’s high stakes test than the student did last year.  If a teacher can do that for a year, you have a GREAT teacher.

I live in Tennessee.

We use tests that were created to assess whether a student has basic proficiency to now assess if they are advanced.  Students who get a lot of questions correct on basic proficiency are considered advanced.

I am a principal in Tennessee.

Students who get more basic proficiency (mediocre) questions correct on tests are not advanced.  They are really really really mediocre.

Students that work on a project or task and wait for a teacher to tell them what to do are not college and career ready.  When was the last time an engineer heard from his boss, “Here are four choices of how you can do this project… one is correct, one is sort of correct, and two are wrong.”

Teachers that dispense information well are part of the problem, not the solution.  The idea that Robin Williams will be standing in front of every classroom is a fallacy and unreasonable expectation.

I am an educational transformer.

The teachers role is to spend time helping students build search and research skills to access content and learn the content in varying formats.  The mark of the best teachers are those that can facilitate student investigation and student ownership of the learning.  The ultimate goal of the teacher is to create a setting where the student is not dependent on the teacher for success.

Students critically think in every class.  Critically thinking defined as students accessing, using, and applying knowledge.  Students are not relegated to waiting on a teacher to dispense information.  Students control the information.

Students design and build products.  Students collaboratively innovate and develop their ideas across content.  Students no longer think of school as a series of mutually exclusive classes that will never overlap, but integrating skills together across traditional content areas.

The fastest growing state in the nation in education really means that students are able to:

  • learn new content because the content in the marketplace is in constant change,
  • critically think where students can access, use, and apply information,
  • innovate to develop new ideas, and
  • collaborate in order to create quality products.

I encourage you to stop falling prey to educational reform created through legislation and bureaucracy.  Join the movement to become a transformer.

I am a dad.

Transform education for my daughters.


From → Education

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