Executive Insights

Executive Insights

Executive Insights

Learning from the best
Kentucky School Advocate
October 2016
By Mike Armstrong
KSBA Executive Director
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” Pablo Picasso

In August, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) released its report “No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State.”

It is the work of a bipartisan group of 28 veteran state legislators, legislative staff and business partners, focusing on the highest-performing countries on PISA, the Programme for International Student Assessment, which looks at the demonstrated knowledge of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science in industrialized countries. Their goal was to discover commonalities across the policies and practices of 10 of those countries/regions, which range from China and Hong Kong to Finland and Poland. The panel will eventually produce what it calls “a policy roadmap that states can use to guide their reforms, as well as provide support to states ready to embark on these efforts.”

In the meantime, the group’s report recommends seven steps that state policymakers can take, including building an inclusive team, setting priorities, studying and learning from top performers, creating a shared statewide vision and benchmarking policies.

The study team also identified four common elements widely credited for the “rapid rise in student achievement:”

1. Children come to school ready to learn, and extra support is given to struggling students so that all have the opportunity to achieve high standards.

2. A world-class teaching profession supports a world-class instructional system, where every student has access to highly effective teachers and is expected to succeed.

3. A highly effective, intellectually rigorous system of career and technical education is available to those preferring an applied education.

4. Individual reforms are connected and aligned as parts of a clearly planned and carefully designed comprehensive system.

So what does this report mean for our Commonwealth? In no particular order, I offer the following thoughts and suggestions:

+ Our state legislators, working with Kentucky’s education stakeholders – school board members, administrators, teachers and parents – must agree to a set of focused goals and objectives intended for ALL of Kentucky’s children and youth.

+ These goals and objectives need to be free of any partisan or political baggage. Students don’t really care who gets the credit for the opportunity of a bright future, and as adults we all need to be willing to do the same.

+ Once the education community as a whole commits to this pathway, we need to work with the legislature for the benefit of students, and dedicate the time, energy, and effort to successfully reach these goals and objectives. This constant rewriting and reshaping of the public education landscape, with piecemeal education-related legislation, has to end.

+ Accordingly, our General Assembly, with the active support of the citizenry of the Commonwealth, will then have to identify and implement a sound system of fiscal resources to invest in and support these goals and objectives.

+ And once a united public education community commits to this effort, we will need to work to “make it so!”

To read or download the report, go to: http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/no-time-to-lose-how-to-build-a-world-class-education-system-state-by-state
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