Innovation and redesign begins with asking, “What if….”

February 15, 2018 no comments Signe Swenson

Today on the blog we have another guest post by Bob Wedl, who posits that personalization in education starts with the essential question “what if…”. We hope you enjoy his thoughts below!

 

Bob Wedl’s career in public education includes experience in both district as well as chartered schools, state department leadership and higher education. Bob served as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education in the late 1990’s leading Minnesota’s innovative standards and measurement initiatives, electronic data collection systems and new finance models including having revenue following students to the sites they attend. In the late 1980’s and early 90’s while serving as deputy commissioner of education, he was a leader in the development of much of Minnesota’s choice policy including open enrollment, post-secondary enrollment options, “second chance” programs and the nations first charter school law.

Bob served as the Executive Director of Planning and Policy for the Minneapolis Public Schools where he led the development of new models for serving students, expanded the Response to Intervention (RtI) model and assisted develop a “value-added growth accountability model.” He also provided direction to the district’s nine chartered schools and 33 contract alternative schools. Bob is an adjunct faculty member in the education administration departments at the University of Minnesota and the University of Saint Thomas. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Saint Cloud State University.

Innovation and redesign begins with asking, “What if….”

By Bob Wedl

“Personalization” is the latest buzz word in education…and that’s a good thing.  This isn’t the first time education has walked down this path.  But with today’s technology, personalization is now more doable because we can more easily track where each student wants to go and where they are on their personalized learning path. Doing that by paper-pencil was a huge task and the weight of 3-ring binders of student information caused “Individually Guided Education (IGE)” schools in the 1960’s and 70’s to discontinue their efforts.

In project-based learning schools, personalization is built into the design of the school but in course and class-based schools, that becomes a bit more complicated…until we ask, “What if…”  Like, “What if…we stop requiring students to learn the competencies they already know?” This can be asked in any area but Algebra I is a good example.  What if we said to students and parents, “If you wish, you can independently access xyz algebra program online (at no cost to you) as it addresses all of the state standards and you can meet the requirements this way.  Many students will jump at this chance.  Some students will complete the course in a week others in a month.  Some will do it over the summer others during middle school but each at their own pace.   Or, “What if…we have classes of 120 students in Algebra I in an on-line class with one teacher and a para helping those students that need assistance and as soon as students have met the competencies they are finished with the course and go on to a new set of competencies.  We are not asking, “Should students learn Algebra” because indeed they do need those competencies…but when we personalize we also need to have various instructional designs ready to match the learning needs of students.  Some students don’t need any instruction other than the amazing on-line instruction that indeed can replace the live teacher.  Note: Psst you…the one that is saying to yourself right now, “Well that’s crazy.  Everyone can’t learn that way.  Computers can’t replace teachers.”  You are right.  Not everyone can but in personalization, “everyone” gets replaced by “this student.”  That is why I said “some students…” and indeed “this student” can…so let her.  I personally know students that have learned algebra I online over the summer…and then came back in fall to enroll in… yep, Algebra I.    

Some students need a teacher and a small class.  Others can handle a large class of 120 with someone available to help them out on occasion…perhaps Kahn Academy could serve that purpose as well.  Personalization means both personalizing the learning but also personalizing the structure of the learning day…which is now 24 hours long.  (Just an FYI, In a future blog, I will address the need to personalize the state standards.  Amazing isn’t it that we want to personalize instruction and learning but yet require everyone to master the same set of standards?)  

Key to personalization is the validation of learning.  Even when teachers do not directly teach, learning needs to be validated.  In some cases that will be the same tests teachers use for classes.  But we accept independent evaluation of learning now such as AP tests perhaps we need to be open to other validation methodologies as well?  

“What if…” questions can be asked in many areas.  For example, we value students learning a world language yet most schools use the most expensive and least effective method for teaching world languages. Elementary schools have a few Spanish language classes a week.  Seriously, are students really learning Spanish?  We wait until the language-learning years (birth to age 8) have passed and then we begin.  “What if”…we began Spanish immersion in pre-k when children’s brains are wired to learn languages?  We could use paras who were Spanish speaking along with teachers fluent in Spanish?  Children would come to K fluent in a world language.

Dee and Doug Thomas asked the question, “What if teachers could make all the key decisions regarding the operation of the school?”  Not just be on a committee.  Years and mountains of data later tell us this works pretty darn well and an entire national movement has begun using this school management model that is empowering professional teachers as never before..  

Dr. Stan Deno at the U of M asked, “What if we collected one-minute samples of students reading in grade-level texts as a way to determine how well they could read?  And what if we measured the impact of our instructional interventions weekly to see how well the instruction worked.”  With that “What if,” “Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM)” was born and validation studies of this RtI model by Dr. Doug Marston at the Minneapolis Schools and Gary German, Dr. Kathy Howe and Dr. Kim Gibbons at the St. Croix River Education District (SCRED) demonstrated its amazing effectiveness.   Now the RtI model has expanded to MTSS and is widely used across the country.  

Professional Learning Communities can be asking the “What if” questions.  “What if” we combined grades 11-14 so that students, using personalization, received their AA or career certification instead of a high school diploma and at no added cost to the state but huge savings to families?  

Some “What if” will require exemptions of laws and rules ant that is what the Innovation Zone enacted in 2017 does.  The Legislature, led by Representative Roz Peterson, enacted the Innovation Zone law that removes numerous laws and rules in exchange for letting teachers and administrators try innovative ways to improve learning and schooling.

Asking, “What if” is the beginning of thinking differently…of innovation and redesign.  Try it…you’ll like it.   

Personalized Learning: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

February 5, 2018 no comments Signe Swenson

Today on the blog we have a guest post by friend of EdVisions, Nancy Allen Mastro. We hope you enjoy her compelling reasons for embrace personalized education by everyone in the education community as well as some great suggestions for students, teachers, parents and policy makers. Personalized education is not a buzzword with an expiration date!

Dr. Allen-Mastro began her career in education as an elementary school teacher and later spent 26 years as a school administrator, serving in a variety of roles, including Principal, K-12 Director of Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent in rural and suburban schools in Minnesota.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Montana State University, a Master’s degree from Bemidji State University, and a Doctorate from the University of North Dakota.  She retired in 2017.  

 

Personalized Learning: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Is personalized learning the latest buzzword, soon to be abandoned in the graveyard of education innovations? Probably not. After all, learning always has been personal. School is a particularly intimate experience, even for the seemingly most unengaged student. Unfortunately, too many students don’t see purpose in what they are being asked to learn, and they don’t see themselves reflected in an ever-expanding curriculum. This is especially true for students who have been minimized in traditional education settings. Nor are students who presumably do well in school acquiring the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed in a highly complex, global society (Wagner, 2008).  

Fortunately, personalized learning offers a viable pathway out of the dilemma in which we find ourselves. While the best definition of personalized learning is one that is developed locally, the United States Department of Education defines it as “instruction in which the pace of learning and the instructional approach are optimized for the needs of each learner. Learning objectives, instructional approaches, and instructional content (and its sequencing) may all vary based on learner needs. In addition, learning activities are made available that are meaningful and relevant to learners, driven by their interests and often self-initiated” (p. 7).  

As the education community turns its attention to personalized learning, it would be easy to embrace such lofty goals but end up short on substance. How do we make good on the promise that awaits?  

Why Personalize

Students deserve to be challenged and supported in a way that meets them where they are at. Personalized learning is the only way in which we can provide full access to ideas, opportunity, and excellence for all students. This is simply not happening. Gaps exist, and they are real. What personalized learning offers is the ability to circumvent those gaps and make each individual student’s personal experience the starting point from which all else in school is constructed. When we personalize learning, student voice and choice become the engine that drives motivation and fuels engagement.  

We also live in an age of mass customization. Banking is personalized, entertainment options are personalized; we can even customize our favorite brands to suit our personal preferences. We’d be foolish to think people don’t expect the same kind of opportunities when it comes to education.  

Thanks to advances in technology, for the first time in history, tools to personalize are available in schools. The tools of old force a certain mindset about school. New tools, on the other hand, create an exciting and virtually unlimited space for a different way of teaching and learning to emerge. Today’s apps, online resources, and robust learning management systems are truly transformative. Students can move at a pace that is appropriately matched to their prior knowledge and readiness for new content. They are afforded a level of individual choice, which not only empowers them but additionally requires a level of engagement and personal responsibility that vastly exceeds simply showing up and occupying a seat in class. And the way in which students can get frequent, individualized feedback helps students, teachers, and parents know just where students are at in their learning.  

Finally freed by technology from standing and delivering content, teachers can work more readily with individuals and small groups on more complex learning endeavors. When an individual learning plan (ILP) becomes the focus of a student’s day at school, the student becomes the focus of the teacher. Central to the ILP is project-based learning, where old meets new in terms of how we think about students’ role in their learning.  

Students have always completed projects in school. But when students choose their own projects and are required to shepherd them to completion, they become self-directed learners. Choices are guided by a structured framework of standards and learning targets; assessments are determined from the start. A worthy project has a series of steps and stages that are carried out over an extended time. Most of all, a project must be personally meaningful to students and answer substantive questions. This is what makes school relevant for them.    

Unlearning

Escuela Verde demonstrates that a vision for personalizing learning is possible. A public charter school located in Milwaukee, it educates approximately 100 urban youth in grades 9-12. Students conduct research to answer complex questions and solve problems and challenges that are personally meaningful and relevant to them. They work closely with their community in a self-directed manner through projects, internships, and overnight experiences.  

Personalizing learning is not easy, but it is worth it, says Joey Zocher, who has been at Escuela Verde since it opened six years ago. She feels liberated from tradition. That said, staff, students, and parents need to unlearn most of what they know about school. “You learn as much as the kids do,” she says (J. Zocher, personal communication, November 21, 2017). “You have to ask yourself, are you really willing to share power?” Staff at Escuela Verde guide students in rethinking their role in their learning and guide each other in self-governing their school.  

Teachers, whom they call advisors at Escuela Verde, are shifting to truly facilitating learning versus sharing knowledge. “It’s still tempting for teachers to tell rather than guide. It’s different for students too,” Zocher points out. “Kids come in skeptical; it takes time to build trust. The old system is still there, and it’s easy to give up when kids realize it’s hard to hold yourself accountable.” It takes time for students to transition to being self-directed, and not all are successful. Even students who have done well in traditional settings can struggle with new expectations. “It’s messy,” Zocher admits, “but that’s not a bad place to be. Project-based learning is important because it lets kids take ownership.” Escuela Verde also focuses heavily on career and college readiness. “Students are so used to being told what to do, they don’t know themselves, and they don’t know the skills required of a job they think they are interested in.” Staff help them identify their interests and honestly assess their strengths and weaknesses. 

EdVisions is proud to have played a part in assisting Escuela Verde on its journey and applauds the progress it is making. “Personalizing learning is important because it meets students where they are at.” So says Krissy Wright, Professional Development Director at EdVisions, which offers a multi-faceted approach to supporting schools who want to personalize (K. Wright, personal communication, November 10, 2017).  Their approach starts with their Ed°Essentials, but the similarities from one school to another end there. “We have our model, but it’s counterintuitive to say schools must follow it, all or nothing. We personalize support by helping teams know where they can begin based on where they are at and weave our practices into what they are already doing.” When one part of the system changes, the rest of it is affected. EdVisions’ focus on tying all of the parts together is what sets their type of support apart.  

Wright stresses that creating a small learning community and a robust advisory model are key elements to personalizing. Projects stem from the advisor/advisee relationship, and they encourage schools to carry that through to the personalized learning plan. EdVisions’ Hope Survey is useful in assessing student engagement, hope, belongingness, and academic press, and it provides insight into whether a student has a growth or a fixed mindset about their learning. 

Wright also acknowledges that the challenges and barriers to personalizing learning have a lot to do with unlearning what has been past practice. A growth mindset and a shift in practice are necessary for making it through some difficult transitions for all concerned. “Staff need to learn how to work alongside students. We assist teachers in taking ownership of personalized learning and how they can model it for students. When the staff operates in a democratic environment, they model those practices for students too.” Resources are yet another challenge. Many schools don’t have funds or time built into their schedule to support the cost of field study, and it can be hard to find community experts to work with students on the wide array of projects they have selected.

So how do we make personalized learning doable, meaningful, effective, and sustainable? A whole host of things must occur, but some starters include the following.

For Teachers

  • Rethink course design and favor student-centered over content-centered approaches.
  • Modernize pedagogy and shift the art and science of teaching to one in which the teacher supports, rather than controls, learning.
  • Iterate. Start small and embrace failure; expect your skill and ability to personalize learning to evolve over time.

For Schools and Districts

  • Start with a clear theory of action. Engage staff in deep planning around why to personalize, how it can and should look, and what the intended outcomes will be. Communicate your theory of action widely, frequently, and clearly.
  • Provide robust, committed, and sustained training and support. How a teacher personalizes learning will look different from one classroom to the next; give teachers expressed license to experiment.  
  • Invest in the right tools. Personal devices, online access, digital and adaptive curriculum, and learning management systems all are necessary to making the logistics of personalizing manageable.  
  • Recreate learning spaces that are flexible, purposeful, and suitable for students to move and learn freely.  

For Students

  • Own your learning. Accept responsibility to direct it in partnership with your teacher.
  • Make choices that matter. Jamie Casap, Google’s “Education Evangelist” likes to ask, “What problem in the world do you want to solve?” What would your answer be?  Start your learning there.
  • Challenge yourself. Contribute to making school a place you and others want to be.  

For Parents and Community

  • Let schools be different. Learning won’t look like it did when you went to school.  Trust that new ways will enhance, not jeopardize, student success.  
  • Accept technology for the tool that it is. Keep in mind that screen time enables more time to be spent on hands-on, real-world projects that include working independently and collaborating with others.
  • Let your children struggle. Failure along the way will only make them stronger.     

For Teacher Preparation

  • Help teacher candidates break free of limiting views resulting from their own experience as a student in a traditional model and insist they are able to distinguish their role from delivering content to facilitating and supporting learning at a deep level.
  • Immerse teacher candidates in experiences that incorporate new teaching strategies that specifically focus on the integration of technology as an accelerator of learning.  
  • Provide teacher candidates with training in how to design flexible learning spaces that work best for student learning.

For Policy Makers

  • Change school funding models from generating revenue based on seat time to funding the true cost of educating students in the 21st Century.
  • Fully fund the cost to create technology-enabled teaching and learning.
  • Allow schools to move to proficiency and competency-based models for awarding credit.

For more information on how EdVisions can support you and your school community in personalizing learning, contact Krissy Wright at krissywright@edvisions.org or call 612-601-1093.

References

U.S. Department of Education. (2016). Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education.  Washington, DC.

Wagner, T. (2008).  The Global Achievement Gap. Perseus Books, NY.

Guest Post: Are Chartered Schools good schools?

January 11, 2018 no comments Signe Swenson

Today on the blog we have a guest post by friend of EdVisions, Bob Wedl. We hope you enjoy his insights as he tackles a problematic question.

 

Bob Wedl’s career in public education includes experience in both district as well as chartered schools, state department leadership and higher education. Bob served as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education in the late 1990’s leading Minnesota’s innovative standards and measurement initiatives, electronic data collection systems and new finance models including having revenue following students to the sites they attend. In the late 1980’s and early 90’s while serving as deputy commissioner of education, he was a leader in the development of much of Minnesota’s choice policy including open enrollment, post-secondary enrollment options, “second chance” programs and the nations first charter school law.

Bob served as the Executive Director of Planning and Policy for the Minneapolis Public Schools where he led the development of new models for serving students, expanded the Response to Intervention (RtI) model and assisted develop a “value-added growth accountability model.” He also provided direction to the district’s nine chartered schools and 33 contract alternative schools. Bob is an adjunct faculty member in the education administration departments at the University of Minnesota and the University of Saint Thomas. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Saint Cloud State University.

 

Are Chartered Schools good schools?

by Bob Wedl

When this question is asked it is clear those asking the question don’t quite get it.  Would one ask, “Are leased cars any good?” Likely not as leasing is not a kind of car any more than chartering is a kind of school.  They are both management options to access cars and schools.  Minnesota has more management options for starting public schools than does any other state and chartering is but one of these management options.  Other management options, in addition to district-board created, include site-led (teacher-powered,) contract alternative schools, area learning centers, legislative created (Rudy and Lola Perpich School for the Arts and Schools for the Deaf and Blind), university lab schools (although Minnesota has none right now) and I would include PSEO as well. These different options are “management innovations.” Whether any of these management options result in “good schools” depends on what is created and implemented.

 

Why did the Minnesota Legislature enact DFL Senator Ember Reichgott Jung’s charter bill in 1991? Reichgott Jung says it was that education needed innovation and redesign and the current district arrangement was simply not doing that.  The charter law recognized that we needed both improvement of what we currently had as well as a sector whose focus was on researching new and different models.  Ted Kolderie refers to this notion in his book titled The Split Screen Strategy. Chartering was intended to be the R&D sector of public education.  One of the most significant designs researched early in the chartered sector was the concept of schools designed and led by professional teachers.  Dee Thomas, a district high school principal and Doug Thomas, a district school board member, knew the century old superintendent-principal led school was not designed to empower professional teachers.  What would happen if teachers could call the shots? Kim Farris-Berg asks in her book, Trusting Teachers with School Success. Dee and Doug led the design of “Minnesota New Country School” using the management option of chartering to help answer that question. Avalon School followed as did a plethora of others in the chartered sector.  Are these schools successful because they are public chartered schools?  Of course not.  They are successful because of what the management option of chartering enabled teachers to design.  

 

Part of the idea behind chartering was that when new ideas were successful, districts would leap at the opportunity to implement them.  But that did not happen. Instead almost all district boards, superintendents, principals and teachers saw chartered schools as organizations that were taking away “their students.” Former Minneapolis Superintendent David Jennings even called charter schools “the enemy.”  While some innovative thinking teachers wanted to design schools they believed would be successful, many were reticent to use chartering.  To be fair, some superintendents did as well.  Because of that, in 2009, Rep John Benson, a former Edina teacher union leader along with strong support from Mpls district union leaders Louise Sundin and Lynn Nordgren sponsored legislation that enabled districts to access the same flexibility and autonomy provisions of chartering without actually chartering a school.  This was a huge breakthrough for the district sector to be able to have the same flexibility from laws and rules as did the charter sector and teachers have the autonomy of chartered school teachers and also keep the same amount of money as district schools which is considerably more than the chartered schools.  Shocking…but no district takers.  Minneapolis tried but its internal bureaucracy stifled the one school and it closed after a year.  So the 2009 law basically went unused until Lakeville Superintendent Lisa Snyder convinced the Lakeville Board to empower Julene Oxton and several other teachers.  The movement has begun.

With education | evolving leading the Teacher-Powered Schools Network around the country, the innovation research in the chartered sector is fulfilling the real mission of the chartering option.  To research new and different models and to have the district sector replicate those that are successful.    

 

The PLP Gap, Perhaps It’s Time to Rethink Our Process

December 22, 2017 no comments Signe Swenson

 

Dr. Steven J. Rippe has over 20 years of experience working with educators and school leaders designing and implementing innovative schools and programs throughout the United States. A successful teacher, principal and University administrator, Steven has worked with passionate educators to create nationally recognized schools and works with struggling schools to reinvent themselves into high performing, dynamic learning organizations.

The PLP Gap, Perhaps It’s Time to Rethink Our Process

By Steven Rippe, Director of Organization Development and Hope Survey

 

I have been part of a wonderful community of educators that has been studying personal learning plans for over a decade. The idea of a true personal learning plan, one that inspires and guides us to become our best, has been a goal worth pursing. Reflecting on the work of Chris Argyris, I am forced to realize that what we have in our heads around the purpose and process of personal learning plans and what we practice, are often fundamentally different. In this article I will describe the PLP gap, how we arrived there and the new opportunity we have to actualize our original intent.

Working collaboratively with students and educators across the United States we were able to identify elements that facilitated authentic, engaging and transformative personal learning plans.  Each year we met and shared our best practices and offered workshops to educators and schools interested in using our process. We do know that our work spread throughout the United States and has taken on a life of its own. We also knew that we still had work to do to make this process work for everyone.

As we were gaining momentum with our personal learning plans, the effects of the No Child Left Behind Law (NCLB, 2002) began to take hold. According to Education Week (2017), NCLB effectively added a new federal role in holding schools accountable for student outcomes, with harsh consequences for not meeting “Adequate yearly Progress”. As I traveled throughout the United States working with schools, students and teachers frequently reported that personal learning plans had devolved into an assignment and for some, it felt like another control device to get them to achieve on high stakes tests. Fortunately, we did have a network of schools and committed educators that continued the work and are producing amazing personal learning plans. NCLB was replaced in 2015 with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which sets the stage for a new mindset around data collection, including socio-emotional growth and the role of personal learning plans.

Perhaps it is time we challenge our epistemology and practice on how we are engaging in personal learning plans with our students, staff and ourselves. We are teaching and learning in a time that encourages authentic personalization. I am currently involved in a book project on the next generation of student-led personal learning plans with students from Valley New School in Appleton Wisconsin, along with Nicole Luedtke (advisor at Valley New) and Dr. Walter Enloe. If you would like to be involved in our learning community, including our yearly gatherings and /or would like to contribute to our writing project, please contact me directly at stevenrippe@edvisions.org.

Relationships and Why They Matter

December 12, 2017 no comments Signe Swenson

Dr. Newell is presently the Director of Assessment for EdVisions Schools, and has served as the Director of Learning Programs for the Gates/EdVisions replication efforts. Dr. Newell was a founder of the Minnesota New Country School and EdVisions Cooperative. He has published four books that explain the rationale and practices behind the learning program and governance of the EdVisions Schools. His work with development of coaches training, staff development and evaluation has lead to creation of processes and materials that enhance the development and sustainability of newly created charter schools. His work with Mark Van Ryzin in development of the Hope Study has lead to an assessment of school culture that is becoming nationally recognized.

Dr. Newell was a high school history teacher and coach, a mentor teacher, a college professor, a Director of Clinical Experiences at two universities, and is a founding member of the EdVisions Leaders Center. His interests are learning theory, adolescent development, alternative assessment, decentralized distributive education, use of technology in education, and development of new curriculum for the development of Life-long Learning Skills.

 

Relationships and Why They Matter

By Ron Newell, Director of Assessment

Recently a group of Japanese educators came to visit EdVisions schools in Minnesota. I witnessed them question a panel of students from the Minnesota New Country School in Henderson. What I found interesting was that most of the questions were around the perceptions of the students as to their social and emotional state as a result of being in this school. Interesting also were the answers. To the students, what turned them around as non-performing students to performing students were the relationships formed with their advisors and each other. The advisory-based, project-based school completely turned relationships from teacher centered to student centered.

Visitors from the Institute of Project-Based Learning in Japan talk with an MNCS Elementary student about her project.

The usual teacher-to-student relationship is the teacher tells, the student listens; the teacher designs the lessons, the student follows along with assignments; books and other curriculum guides designated what was to be learned; the teacher governed behavior based on students “going along”; assessments were created from teacher made material, always with right and wrong answers; expectations were expressed in grades, hours, and courses “passed”. These relationships create an “us-against-them” mentality. No autonomy, no sense of belonging, only a mastery goal orientation, with students competing for grades and recognition.

These relationships actually inhibit learning. Authentic tasks and experiential learning are more compatible to how the brain works. By fashioning a process-oriented, student-driven, project-based system of learning, tied to state standards, EdVisions has changed that paradigm from one of authoritarian teacher-telling, to intrinsically motivating teacher-advising.

The present course-based system is predicated on the belief that not all children are going to learn and some naturally will fail. Taking into consideration personalizing learning styles and utilizing self-interest, EdVisions schools have found that all can learn if the system is not course and hour based. With a high degree of active participation, allowing for greater student choice, students become intrinsically motivated. Students become transformed by an education that matters to them personally.

MNCS Elementary students share their work with a visitor from the Institute of Project-Based Learning in Japan.

Taking time to create a community of learners who work together does not take away from learning content, and fosters greater ability to collaborate and interact with others. Not only advisor/teachers, but also other students and the greater community. Students learn to collaborate, respect other’s opinions and interests, become more willing to help others, and learn to express themselves well.

Project-based and place-based learning does not mean there is no rigor. They actually allow students to go deeper than the shallow course-based curricula of many high schools. Abstract exercises of the mind without authentic context do not lead to deep learning. Important skills and content are best developed along with contextual learning, such as happen in project-based learning. Rigor is involved with students learning what they are interested in, and core knowledge is inherent in real-world activities of project-based learning.

When asked how do we transform a school to where students are socially and emotionally engaged, and how can they institute project-based learning, I always start with “change the relationships!” Change how teachers interact with students. Give them more autonomy, let them study what interests them, learn what is their preferred learning style and how they best perform, so as to allow intrinsic motivation. Allow students to do independent learning, interact more, and do more outside of school. Require more adult-like behavior from them, with academic and personal support, and do so where there is no “us-against-them” mentality. And if it takes changing the whole structure of how school is done, then do it! But always remember that you must change the relationships; that is the number one priority.

 

Guest post: Why Are My Students Shutting Down?

November 22, 2017 no comments Signe Swenson

In today’s blog, Hope Gover shares students’ ideas on how teachers can motivate and inspire learning through authentic relationships. 

Hope Grover has taught in both traditional and charter public schools in Minnesota.  She has a masters of arts in education from Hamline and completed an educational leadership program at Minnesota State University-Mankato.  She attended high school at Minnesota New Country School, an Edvisions partner school and has written and presented on topics related to personalized learning.  She specializes in music education.

Why Are My Students Shutting Down?

Being an advisor can be the most exciting, frustrating, influential, and mind-boggling job an educator may choose to pursue.  Think of those glorious Mondays and Tuesdays when students were researching brilliantly, collaborating like mad, and blowing your mind with their sheer creativity and ingenuity.  It seemed as if the edges of the universe could not expand fast enough for where these students are headed!  And then, Wednesday came and it is as if the previous days had been a complete figment of your overactive imagination.  Those same UNBELIEVABLY AMAZING students were replaced by moody teenagers who only wanted to watch YouTube videos, send text messages, and respond in single words or grunts.  What the heck happened?

It is logical to run down a list of possible reasons for this sudden change: A. woke up in an alternate universe, B. made a very bad fashion choice, C. the students were replaced with drones, or D. the students have a personal issue that they need to work through before being productive.  Since most schools do not have meetings set up with Stephen Hawking or Lucas Enterprises, we can count out A and C.  Assuming that D is the correct answer, students are fortunate to attend an EdVisions school-where their advisors know them well and are willing to sit down and talk to them nearly any time of the day.

EdVisions schools have a benefit over a traditional school due to their small size and focus on a student-centered authentic learning community.  This allows students and staff members to feel safe and valued within their school.  This becomes extremely important when advisors are working with students who are struggling through a rough “Wednesday” or for new students arriving from a setting where they have previously been unsuccessful, unvalued, or unsupported.  Students in a strong advisory system have a strong sense of comradery within their advisory group with their peers as well as their advisors which allow them to both feel safe and take risks.  This safety is a key facet to the communication between advisors and advisees that is crucial to maintaining the careful balance of productivity.

In working with and researching project-based learning, there are generally four different reasons that can affect productivity enough to cause students to shut down.  The first occurs when an advisor breaks one of the “hidden curriculum” rules.  The second reason occurs when a student reaches the most difficult part of the project process [for them].  The third reason occurs when the student has something in their personal life that is so important or distracting that it encroaches on their schooling.  Finally, the fourth reason is simply because they are a teenager and their hormones are all over the place-they don’t know what they want to do.  For the sake of this blog, let’s discuss the first reason.

For as long as schools have been in existence, there has been a “hidden curriculum” for students and staff.  It turns out, that EdVisions schools also has one; except now the advisor’s “hidden curriculum” is public.  The following list is the result of October 2017 interviews with a group of veteran EdVisions project-based learning students.  These students were interviewed to get their take on what an advisor needs to do to ensure that they are meeting the needs of students and not accidently stepping on a minefield that may cause them to shut down.  The following were the top ten responses from that visit:

  1. Treat students with respect.  (Treat us like we are equals rather than just students.)
  2. Have patience.  (Some days we are inspired and some days we aren’t.  This process takes time.)
  3. Communicate with students, staff, and parents.  (This is the most important thing that will keep everything flowing well.)
  4. Push, but don’t be pushy.  (Let us do what we want to do, not what you want us to do.)
  5. Trust us and let us make decisions.  (Especially about things like what to do in advisory group, where we put our desks, etc.)
  6. Be inspired by creativity.  (We are awesome, let us be so!)
  7. Push students out of their comfort zones.  (Know when to make us do something we don’t think we can do and then make us do it.)
  8. Let students dive in.  (This means that sometimes we will fail, but we will learn from this and that is good.)
  9. Don’t tell a student no.  (This just shuts us down.  Find an alternative pathway to reaching the outcome.  We should be “no tolerance” not “zero tolerance” schools.)
  10. Always follow-through. (Remember that you are a role model for us and we need you to follow-through on things so we learn to do so as well.)

Thus, when meeting with a student on a said “Wednesday,” first check and think through this list.  Perhaps, make a list of the “hidden curriculum” for your own school if this list does not accurately apply.  It is important to remember that in the grand scheme of the universe, we can only control what we, ourselves, do.  Therefore, if we ensure that we are accomplishing our piece of the puzzle correctly, we have eliminated one adversary and ensured one support structure for our students.

In closing, remember that regardless of where you are teaching, we all have had (and will continue to have) days that feel like we have entered the Twilight Zone.  Our students are amazing, but they are teenagers.  It is important to remember that the best way to help our students is to respect them, value them, and talk to them.  Be awesome!

Guest post: What is Innovation; Why do we need to Innovate?

November 14, 2017 no comments Signe Swenson

This week, our guest blog is written by Robert Wedl. Bob served as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education in the late 1990’s leading Minnesota’s innovative standards and measurement initiatives, electronic data collection systems and new finance models including having revenue following students to the sites they attend. In the late 1980’s and early 90’s while serving as deputy commissioner of education, he was a leader in the development of much of Minnesota’s choice policy including open enrollment, post-secondary enrollment options, “second chance” programs and the nation’s first charter school law. He was an administrator in North Branch and Minneapolis and was the first Education Director of the Minnesota Reading Corps. Bob taught at the University of Minnesota, St. Thomas and Concordia and is a Senior Fellow with Education Evolving.  

What is Innovation; Why do we need to Innovate?

By Robert Wedl

I am delighted to be writing this column for the EdVisions blog.  Thanks Dr. Snyder for this wonderful opportunity.  The focus of my column will be on innovation and the redesign of education.   That will include the need to redesign the mission of education.  Our current system was based on the needs of the 20th century when a high school diploma was, for many, a terminal degree.  

Educators like to think of ourselves as being innovative, but actually education, like most organizations in both the public and private sector, is quite cautious about doing things much differently.  And with good reason.  We are dealing with children and youth.   When educators think of ourselves as “innovators” the focus is likely on “improving what is now.”  That actually isn’t innovation.  Innovation is new and different.  Innovators are actually often laughed at.  “Get a horse” was a common jeer at the onset of the automobile.   Peers frequently pressure colleagues into conforming if they stray too far from the status quo.  Wanting to do things differently somehow is interpreted as being critical of the current practice.  But education simply must research and redesign new models of schooling, new curriculum designs, new ways to lead and manage, new governance models, new financing strategies and clearly new evaluation and accountability models.  Each of these will meet with resistance as is always the case when real change is discussed.  “Well that won’t work with everyone” or “MDE or the feds will never let us do that” or “We need to study that more” is intended to stifle the redesign discussion.

Let’s look at what I believe “innovation” is and also what it isn’t.  Look at education through various lenses.  First is “evidence-based.”  For something to be “evidence-based” it requires support with hard research with an adequate sample size and also control groups or at least a matched sample.  Before becoming an “evidence-based practice” the practice may well have been an innovation.  Clearly project-based learning was as were PSEO, early literacy models, MTSS and PBIS.  Education actually does not have many strong “evidence-based” practices.  Second is “research-based” and education does have a plethora of research-based practices.  But the “research-based” bar is not a rigorous standard.  Most everything in the curriculum sales catalogue says it is “research-based and tied to standards.”  That doesn’t say very much.  Third is “promising practice.”  These are strategies that teachers use and find to be effective but there are no organized studies or data behind the practices other than teacher-judgement which clearly is of value.  Innovation is a fourth category.  Because innovation is new and different, it does not have an evidence or research base. New things don’t.  But that by no means suggests that innovation is an “off the top of my head” idea.  Rather, innovation must be carefully designed and be based on a sound hypothesis which will be tested using rigorous research practices.

In Ted Kolderie’s latest book titled, The Split Screen Strategy: How to Turn Education into a Self-Improving System, Kolderie speaks to continuous improvement and redesign as the “split screen strategy.” Kolderie suggests that we cannot do one or the other.  Rather, we must do both.  That is how the system gets improved.  Until recently, the chartered sector of public education was the research and innovation sector.  Project-based learning, teacher-powered schools, age three to grade 3 schools, career academies, new governance designs where teachers held the board majority, use of direct instruction, etc.  But in the past several years, the district sector is beginning to move more rapidly toward a reform agenda as well and state legislatures and the federal government are slowly giving permission to both improve what is as we also research redesign.     

The Minnesota Legislature enacted the “Innovation Zone (IZ)” law in the last session.  I preferred a bolder bill, but the legislature likely went as far as they could.  MDE recently sent out the application for organizations to join the IZ.  EdVisions and Education Evolving are willing to meet with organizations that have redesign in their vision.

 

“The 2017 Legislature enacted Innovation Research Zone Pilot project legislation that provides districts and charter schools an opportunity to test new ideas in K-12 education. An application may be submitted by one or more school districts or charter schools that together to form an innovation zone partnership. The partnership may include other non-school partners, including postsecondary institutions, other units of local government, nonprofit organizations and for-profit organizations. Applicants are encouraged to think beyond continuous improvement of existing practices to try out and measure the success of innovative practices. Pilot projects must research and implement innovation education programs and models that are based on proposed hypotheses. The Innovation Zone plan may include an emerging practice not yet supported by peer-reviewed research”  (Source: http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/dse/zone/).

Guest Post: Small Learning Communities Revisited: Is Yours a Powerhouse?

October 26, 2017 no comments Signe Swenson

Today on the blog we have a guest post by friend of EdVisions, Nancy Allen Mastro. We hope you enjoy her insights on small learning communities!

Dr. Allen-Mastro began her career in education as an elementary school teacher and later spent 26 years as a school administrator, serving in a variety of roles, including Principal, K-12 Director of Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent in rural and suburban schools in Minnesota.  She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Montana State University, a Master’s degree from Bemidji State University, and a Doctorate from the University of North Dakota.  She retired in 2017.  

 

Small Learning Communities Revisited:  Is Yours a Powerhouse?

 

Students come to school motivated and ready to learn every day, but only in class projects where they find purpose, when they have choice, and when they feel a sense of belonging.  If these things are absent, it is hard to engage them in meaningful academic study.  How do educators foster the kind of classroom environment that inspires students to take real and lasting ownership of their learning in a way that prepares them for a future filled with promise and opportunity?

One way is through creating small learning communities (SLCs).  In an SLC, students learn in small groups.  Teachers work closely with their students, ideally over a period of years.  SLCs may be known as houses, academies, or a school-within-a-school.  Sometimes an entire school may be classified as an SLC, such as in a charter or magnet school.  An overarching theme may or may not be part of an SLC, but real-world application towards some stated focus is often present.

No matter what type of school environment you may be in, strong evidence points to higher achievement levels and increased graduation rates when schools are organized into SLCs.  Students are more likely to take rigorous, advanced courses, and they are more likely to engage in co-curricular activities.  Perhaps most importantly of all, students report having more positive feelings about school when they learn in an SLC (Jimerson, 2006).

But structure alone is not enough.  SLCs must be viewed as a means to a better set of outcomes for students, not the desired end (Fouts, et al, 2006).  Sadly, SLCs can be found in many school settings, but when subject to close scrutiny, they often are in name only.  Working with a small group of students is merely an entry point to being an SLC.  A nontraditional set of beliefs and core values around the role of the student and the teacher are central elements that substantially change the conditions for learning.  Without those firmly in place, chairs will have shifted, but hearts and minds will have not.  Well-intentioned staff will mistakenly spend the majority of their time developing protocols for managing the details around who does what, when, and where but forget to be clear on why an SLC is a powerful tool for learning.  

What distinguishes an SLC is its “focus on the learner/learning, and in particular, the active and collaborative nature of teachers’ and students’ work” (Oxley, 2008).  This characterization of an SLC honors the personal role and responsibility that must be afforded each student if teachers expect them to embrace learning and see relevance in their school experience.  Teachers must view students as full partners who bring a wealth of knowledge and skills with them to school.  When this shift in mindset occurs, teachers are as profoundly affected as students.  Researchers have found that teachers in high-performing SLCs commit deeply to a shared set of beliefs about teaching and learning, have higher expectations for students, and collaborate more frequently (AIR and SRI, 2006).

Even when the right mindset about teaching and learning is balanced with an emphasis on the operational details, creating a high-performing SLC can be challenging.  Newly-formed schools struggle with the logistics of starting a new school, and planning and implementation around SLCs can be overwhelming.  Promoting enrollment, branding efforts, and starting everything from ground zero is no small undertaking.  Teachers may not have enough expertise with a design model so vastly different than what they may have experienced in previous assignments.  And let’s face it; they, too, are forming and norming as an instructional team.    

Traditional schools wanting to embed SLCs into the existing environment face even greater barriers.  Any school struggles with organizational change, and because SLCs require dramatically new thinking about teaching and learning, the work of change seekers is likely to collide with the traditional notion of students as passive participants and teachers as the center of the classroom experience (AIR and SRI, 2006).  This often spells disaster for a budding SLC.  Time, tradition, and rigid structures can act like a storm surge that follows a hurricane and wash away well-intentioned plans in a matter of days, even seconds.  We are, after all, causing a change in atmospheric conditions in schools when we try to implement new ways of doing business; days of high and low pressure are inevitable.  

Despite the challenges, the rewards for learning are many when schools make SLCs a central component of their program.  According to Barbara Wornson, Executive Director at Arcadia Charter School, located in Northfield, Minnesota, the small aspect of their learning community is what enables relationships to flourish.  Arcadia enrolls approximately 120 students in grades 6-12 and has been open since 2004.  Staff get to know each child on an individual basis.  Students also get to know each other well.  As a result, a true community is formed.  

Arcadia uses “lots of restorative practices, lots of circles, and lots of talking through things,” says Wornson (B. Wornson, personal communication, October 13, 2017).  Students have a voice, and there is a measure of accountability that is part and parcel of being a member of the Arcadia community.  Their SLC works best in the mix of classes and project-driven work they have developed.  Because of the small learning community, students know the rigor expected in their projects, for which there is a well-designed process for approving, supporting, and presenting a proposal for individual study.  “Students don’t fear failure or ridicule.  The advisory model helps them shape their projects and the expectations around them.  Still,” Wornson cautions, “size is not a panacea.”  Some students have special needs that require supportive attention.  And while it is exciting that students can work at their own pace, finding enough mentors has been challenging for Arcadia.  Mentors from the community provide a significant level expertise to students when studying their topic of choice.  To meet the demand for the number of mentors needed, they leverage volunteers and partner with an array of community entities.  Wornson encourages others utilizing SLCs to be sure to “put legs under their mission and vision.”  Resources will be slim, she says, and you have to be creative.  

If you want to succeed in creating a high-performing SLC that takes teaching and learning to a new level, it is wise to take the long view.  Whether you are in a start-up school or a traditional setting seeking to create an SLC, the model must be allowed to evolve over time.  If your SLC has been in place for a while, it may be time for a deep look at how well it is meeting your desired expectations.  

An SLC is not a structural element, as the name would suggest.  As stated earlier, shared beliefs and actions grounded in those beliefs are what activate the power of an SLC, not the size of the group alone.  The people at the center of your SLC – students, teachers, and parents – need frequent opportunities to explore and articulate their beliefs.  This will enable them to move from individual understandings to framing a collective set of shared ideals that are highly tangible through school practices.  Only then does an SLC become a compelling way of being.  

Nor is an SLC is a methodology to master.  An SLC matures over time; therefore you can and should expect multiple iterations.  Change will be constant, and it will require attention that will need to be sustained over a span of years.  An ongoing focus on the health and vitality of your SLC should always be part of your continuous improvement process.  A robust set of guiding questions, strategies, and tools to position your SLC for success no matter where you place yourself on the development continuum will help make this possible.  

An excellent guide for practitioners wanting to maximize the potential of their SLC is Diana Oxley’s From High School to Learning Community:  Five Domains of Best Practice (2008).  Oxley highlights five domains of best practice in an SLC:

  1. Interdisciplinary teaching and learning teams
  2. Rigorous, relevant curriculum and instruction
  3. Inclusive program and instructional practices
  4. SLC-based continuous program improvement
  5. Building and district support for SLCs

From High School to Learning Community is comprehensive and written in a succinct and reader-friendly way.  It includes a look at the research supporting each domain, a rationale for why it is an essential element, and specific, actionable things you can do to take your SLC to the next level.  There is a working checklist for each domain and well-designed tools for practitioners, including things like suggestions for team composition, sample schedules, tip sheets, advisory models, strategies for working with parents, and how to individualize professional development.  There is even a team-led inquiry model. If used with intentionality, this guide will help to ensure precious time is focused on meaningful dialogue and purposeful action.

Another smart way to invest in your SLC is to enlist the help of people who can guide and support your vision for what you want your SLC to become.  EdVisions offers several means by which they can assist you with a personalized approach, tailored specifically for you and your school.  

What sets EdVisions apart from similar development organizations is their emphasis on a holistic approach.  According to Doug Thomas, Director of Development at EdVisions, transforming schools is hard work that takes time.  The size of schools alone is a big part of what needs to change.  Smaller is simply better; schools can be much more personal for students – and staff as well.  But, he points out, “Small schools by themselves are not the answer.  To redesign, you need to reallocate.” (D. Thomas, personal communication, October 22, 2017).

As an evangelist for innovative practices since EdVisions began in 2000, Thomas knows the challenges in creating small learning communities and cites the typical barriers to transforming schools, including school culture, leadership – even our own time spent in the classroom as a student.  Unfortunately, much of what works best for students is counter to what many of us have personally experienced.  

Not to be deterred, Thomas is passionate when speaking about a new way of thinking about education in America.  “We have to fundamentally change the model for schools.  EdVisions fosters a real and provocative conversation with schools.  We ask them to do something that is very difficult to do.  It demands an immediate explanation of how this works with kids, and we’ve figured that out.  We deeply immerse teachers and planning groups in the design process.”  

The Ed°Essentials outlines the four major components of the work EdVisions focuses on with schools.  To talk with EdVisions about how they can support your small learning community and make it a powerhouse for learning, contact Doug Thomas at 612-290-1708 (cell) or 612-601-1603 (office).  You may also email him at dougthomas@edvisions.org.  (For more from Thomas on what is needed to ensure a successful initiative, see his article in EdVisions’ October newsletter entitled What It Takes to Successfully Launch an Innovation (p. 5).

 

 

References

American Institutes for Research and SRI International. (2006). Evolution of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grants Initiative:  2001-2005 Final Report.  Menlo Park, CA.  Prepared by the National Evaluation of High School Transformation, Washington, DC.

Fouts, Jeffrey T., Duane B. Baker, Carol J. Brown, and Shirley C. Riley. (2006). Leading the Conversion Process:  Lessons Learned and Recommendations for Converting to Small Learning Communities.  Fouts & Associates, Tucson, AZ.

Jimerson, Lorna. (2006). The Hobbit Effort:  Why Small Works in Public Schools.  The Rural School & Community Trust, p. 5, cited in Pubs.cde.ca.gov/tcsii/ch5/smllrngcmunities.aspx.

Oxley, Diana. (2008). From High School to Learning Community:  Five Domains of Best Practice.  Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland.

The Transformation of Public Education

October 12, 2017 no comments Signe Swenson

By Dr. Lisa Snyder
Executive Director, EdVisions

Teaching and learning is clearly a human-centered enterprise based on relationships. But as humans, we have a need to understand why-especially when it comes to change. This gets tricky because each of us has to construct our own understanding through our learning and collaboration with others. When we learn from another, share our practices, our failures and our successes, we all grow.

In recent years, I found this picture, that for me, provides a visual representation and unique metaphor of the transformation that is happening in K-12 public education.  

The established tree represents the strong foundation of public schools; a strong tree with many branches that have grown strong over the years that represent our diverse system of grade levels, content specialties and programs. The tree has continually reached for the sky to grow, adapt and thrive.  

Studying the tree more closely however, a new, blossoming tree can be seen growing out of the established tree. This new tree represents the new ideas emerging in schools, the increasing needs of society and of our students that are now essential for success.   

The established tree seems to be nurturing the growth of the new tree even as it still stands strong and proud on its own merits. Eventually like every tree, the older tree’s life cycle will end, but as it does, it will continue to feed the new tree as it lays on the ground nourishing the earth with its memory.  

So is our system willing to do this? Are we willing as educators willing to continually improve our foundational system while also allowing new ideas and methods to emerge and grow? Are we willing to let the new system stand proudly on our strong shoulders and blossom for all to see?

This is not easy work. It goes against much of our basic human behavior to allow contradicting beliefs to exist in the same system. Recently, I read a best-seller by scientist, Sean Carroll called, “The Big Picture” which attempts to summarize all that scientists know to date about our universe and why we exist. As the author discussed the many times that scientific discovery contradicts with our previously held beliefs, I couldn’t help but make connections to what is happening in public education as well as many other sectors that are responding to the changing expectations. Carroll stated, “When two dramatically incompatible beliefs come into direct contact, it can be like highly reactive chemicals being mixed together, leading to an impressive explosion-possibly even blowing the entire “system” apart until a new one can be assembled from different parts.” Instead of a grand explosion, he suggests we continually test and probe our beliefs for inconsistencies and structural deficiencies and be willing to improve the “architecture and composition even to the point of replacing our beliefs with better ones.” In the end we have to be willing to change our beliefs in the face of new information.

To this end we have to allow teachers and staff to test new theories; even if they are incompatible with past practice or prevailing beliefs. After all, shouldn’t we as educators be the first to question how our systems actually work? While our critics assert our pedagogy lacks relevance in the world today, should it not be us who lead the dialogue on questioning our practices?

A quick review of the literature demonstrates the common needs for education today:

  • Application and demonstration of learning (deeper learning vs. task completion or memorization)
  • Development of key skills and the ability to solve complex problems
  • Alignment of students’ needs, strengths, goals and passion to the learning (personalization of learning)
  • Alignment to economic needs & viable career pathways
  • Development of critical character traits
  • Understanding of culture, race and history in a global context

I believe in public education, so I sincerely believe that public education can meet the needs of our students in a responsive, relevant and personalized manner and that public schools are willing to adapt our approaches and practices to meet the needs of a global citizenry. Our national strategy should be around teacher empowerment to personalize learning. Our teachers are closest to the challenge.

What are the essentials for this to occur? Philosopher Thomas Kuhn conceptualized the term “paradigm shift” to describe how new theories can help us think of the world in new and different ways. We have to believe in human potential-in our high quality educators. We have to know that innovation requires a certain amount of uncertainty, and that we can handle it.

Educators must consider new and emergent practices as objectively and openly as possible and embrace the cognitive dissonance created through this dialogue. Educators must allow their colleagues to research their questions and test their hypothesis.  

So I ask educators:

  • Do you have a voice in what you do? In the system? In how to personalize learning? In how to raise student engagement? In how to raise achievement and results?  
  • Do you want to be a positive voice for our students’ futures?

I invite you to have a voice in the system. Help solve complex challenges such as personalizing learning and work as innovative partners in creating more transformative learning experiences for our students.  

 

Guest Post: CSC’s Dual Enrollment/Credit work helps students and schools.

September 28, 2017 no comments Signe Swenson

Today on the EdVisions blog, we have a guest post by Joe Nathan of the Center for School Change. We hope you enjoy learning more about one of our affiliate organizations and their efforts to improve access to education in Minnesota!

CSC and MACPS at the capitol

Since 1988, the Center for School Change has been working to expand dual credit opportunities for Minnesota students, and dual credit resources and support for students.  The CSC, an affiliate of EdVisions, was active again in the 2017 legislative session, scoring victories for educators and students.

CSC and Minnesota Association of Charter Public Schools helped convince legislators to what could be called at “double PSEO tax” on charter public schools.  As it did with traditional district public schools, MDE was deducting from the state per pupil aid a percentage based on the number of students taking PSEO courses, and the amount of time they spent on PSEO.  However, MDE also was deducting funds from a charter’s “Lease aid” based on PSEO participation.  CSC and MACS convinced legislators that this was an unfair “double tax.” The 2017 Minnesota legislature eliminated it.

Second, for several years, CSC has worked with other groups to double financial support for college in the schools/concurrent enrollment courses taught in high schools, from $2 to $4 million per year.  CSC helped lead efforts with others to delay implementation for 5 years of questionable demands by the Higher Learning Commission regarding required degrees and coursework of CIS/CE high school faculty. We also won state support for teachers who are working toward these credits.

CSC continued worked with families and students to help strengthen the PSEO law.  This year, legislators agreed to require that all public schools (including charters) must provide space, computer and internet access, allowing students to take PSEO courses “on-line”, in the school.

Finally, CSC, High School for Recording Arts and Migizi Communications high school students have created free, “hip-hop” videos in 7 languages (scroll down to view), promoting various forms of dual credit.

Joe Nathan
Director

 

For more information on the CSC and it’s programs visit centerforschoolchange.org