Yesterday was my day to post on Leadertalk, which is one of several blogs managed by Education Week. Educational leaders are invited to participate– and my day is the 20th of every month. So I am always thinking about what I want to post on Leadertalk. It is harder to add photos and I feel a little more confined, like I have to be much more careful since it is someone else’s deal. Nevertheless, as a neophyte blogger, it is a cool opportunity.
So I decided to post a hybrid piece, combining the elements of what I published here at El Milagro Weblog last week and my idea for today.
Because as of today we are 5 instructional weeks from the California Standards Test (the CST’s!) and our teachers are studying their formative data and making some very strategic adjustments in how they work with their students on the final push. 5 weeks is the blink of an eye and they know it. We are still a long ways away from where we need to be. In fact, our MAPS data tells us that 22% of our English language learners are now operating at a proficient level in language arts and 23% in math. We need at least 50% proficiency to reach the state’s Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goal.
This is crunch time. Our teachers are as serious and as focussed as I have ever seen them. There is no panic. There is no quit. There are no false illusions about where we are. So it will be interesting to see how our students perform on California’s standardized tests in May.
This is also the time period in which we cease to philosophize about the wisdom of standardized tests and what the pre-occupation with language arts and math might be doing to our students’ broader abilities to think and innovate and solve problems and reason. This is not the time to engage in the political debate. An NFL coach may not like the rules for sudden death overtime, but when you are out of downs on your opponents’ 20-yard line, you better just trot out your kicker for the game winning field goal and argue about the rules of the game later.
So we are playing to win. And when we win, we expect that there will be some interesting headlines in the morning newspaper. Something like:
“California Charter School Shocks Education World”
“Mueller Charter School Achieves Unprecedented One-Year Gains”
“State Department Questions Legitimacy of Dramatic Test Results“
It is a healthy exercise to visualize your organization’s success and there are many ways to do it. But try visualizing the newspaper headline that captures the essence of your mission and celebrates the moment at which all your collective dreams and ambitions come to full fruition. What will the headlines say?
“Charter School Caps Decade of Innovation by Tipping 901 on API”
As a visualization exercise, this headline is dramatic. But it is more than an exercise… it is our mission. And it is attainable. We have implemented a longer day, a daily English language development program in every classroom, our assessment tools have improved and so has our capacity to use technology. And those are just the highlights. So now all that is left is five weeks of instruction, a 45-yard field goal (against the wind) and the long vigil at the news stand. Just what will your headlines say? Perhaps ours will read:
School Lives up to Its Nickname: