Speaking today: Nick Donohue, Nellie Mae; Ron Ferguson, Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard; Dianne Kelly, Superintendent of Revere Public Schools; Gene Wilhoit, National Center for Innovation in Education
Moderated by Katerine Beilaczyc, Director of Clark's Hiatt Center for Urban Education
What each of you see as two critical issues for urban education under ESSA?
Wilhoit: new opportunity: best practice, innovative program, but gives very little direction
"do we have the capacity and the will to take this law and...become leaders in education reform"
related to that is this continued federal attention to lowest performing schools
"and we find many of them concentrated in urban areas"
thinks 5% model has been "dismal failure"
removes federal models: open invitation to redesign structure
schools with those dropout rates "shouldn't even exist in this country"
Ferguson: at least one other measure
some leaning towards socio-emotional wellbeing
those who work on it do NOT think the measures are ready to do that
not ready to measure differences between schools
"have to give more support for what is appropriate for measuring differences between schools"
perspectives on school climate
new supports for new openness; building capacity
reason to worry that either nothing will happen or the wrong things will work
Kelly: moving away from strict test measures, move on to performance-based assessments
know we have kids who don't test well
channeling funding to students who need it the most
"when we really look at the ($72M additional CH70), it did not go to the Gateway Cities"
funnels 10% budget increases to no urban districts
over 2/3rds of Gateway Cities in Massachusetts will see less than 1% increase if Gov. Baker's budget goes through
Donohue: seven state innovation in assessment
exciting practice changes
shift down to local sites: provisions where the public needs to be engaged in state and local level
"very grateful" to see end of NCLB
but ESSA is a compromise and some of that has yet to be revealed
very high threshhold for research (because of data protection): "I think that compromise piece is bothering me"
"most partisan positions that they couldn't each get from the other" is what staff said was missing from ESSA
Q: build capacity?
Wilhoit: state institutions that need to reflect on their role and their function
need to be real partners with districts
state authorities first point of resource reduction before they go to the schools
at local level, "there's business as usual, and how does one interrupt that" to have deep conversations
law is calling for a different kind of relationship between states and districts
"hints at a much more collaborative process"
Ferguson: to use more effectively the resources we already have
districts share certain types of expertise
"networked learning community"
on school leadership, "harvest the folk knowledge from the most effective school leaders"
at the top of the growth models "there's a lot of public schools"
charters get more attention "because they have the advocacy"
can imagine going in and talking to those at most effective schools
"learn from the best at what's already happening"
Kelly: need to really change the dialogue around public education
using data to "almost vilify teachers in schools"
"our schools are doing great, and the reason our schools are doing great is we're using data appropriately"
have to de-couple ourselves from the state conversation
use data to find out where kids have gaps
"really about re-professionalizing education"
all comes back to budgeting: how successful do we want to be
FBRC: "their report came out and was largely ignored"
Donohue: need to dramatically change how we measure student engagement
stratify current levels
much more real world, competency based
"make education align with what we know about learning"
education leaders "don't really trust the public...and that's crazy, because the public knows what it's talking about"
"Americans...want to advance"
Wilhoit: real implications for higher education in this shift
research not having real impact on process as it is
systems alignment issue: high school students listening to those they aspire to be
Ferguson: incoherence of professional learning from the perspective of teachers
things coming at you
"they got another list, and another list, and another list"
when we talk about going into schools, "it's going to hit the teachers as one more list"
we could do the old ideas well, rather than new ideas
Kelly: teachers fill inundated
"things coming at them...you could go on and on and on...it's exhausting"
as a teacher "you just wanted to have a normal day"
"that's something that just no longer happens"
"give (teachers) the freedom to understand that it's okay if it's not perfect"
Ferguson: how to induce that?
Kelly: have to make them comfortable, know that it's safe
"people have no idea of the wonderful, hard working, innovative teachers who are working in these schools across the Commonwealth"
Ferguson: teachers learning from those who are good?
Kelly: professional learning communities at innovation school; then in high school
honor teachers as learners from each other
culture around educator growth: focused on how we can all learn from each other
Q what do changes look like?
Ferguson: why do we think innovation is the answer?
want kids to develop basic skills and we want them to develop mindsets
teachers who already know how to do that: care about them, captivate them
"what we don't have is learning systems in schools and supports that get people to sink into these things"
"some innovation to be had in how we get the boat to move"
but things we already know
"a lot about implementation and putting systems in place to use what we already know"
Kelly: don't have the on-demand, in the moment supports kids need
everyone comes in at a set time, this is recess, this is lunch, you take this many math classes
for some kids it takes three years to get high school done and get onto college
for some kids it takes five, six years "and it doesn't mean the school is bad"
"that's what I think of when I think of innovation"
Donohue: don't do new things for the sake of doing new things
school still built on kids doing the same thing at the same pace
"not an innovation of practice; it's an innovation of purpose"
competency based education: it's when you advance kids forward when they know things
"equitable is not equal"
put resources where they're needed and meet kids where they are
agree "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater"
shifting the box a little bit and maintaining effective instructional practices
Ferguson: resistance to effective differentiation, as there will be race and class differences
being ready for next step of education; readiness rate is going up , going up at .3% a year
give places to demonstrate responsibility
"very treacherous time": will we focus on universal attainment?
Q: ways to stand up for the most vulnerable kids?
Wilhoit: tremendous debate at this level
"at the state level, jury is still out on if we're going to respond to this challenge"
going to ask folks to disproportionally resource the highest need
"am I willing to give up more for the neediest kids in the country?"
building around teachers on infrastructure
systems around them that aren't counter to positive learning environments
Ferguson; what to do about concentrated poverty?
turnover teachers and administration
instability for families
a lot of behavior issues do to instability
one of greatest inequalities is in access to an orderly classroom
want all kids to thrive in life: not just money, but life experiences are equitably distributed
want parents to understand that babies are learning even before they're born
preschool experiences "ought to be part of the equity agenda"
Kelly: have to decide if we mean it when we talk about equity
"are we still going to talk about these things and not do them?"
need change in House and Senate budget "or these things will be gone"
Donohue: need to talk about race, racism, and white privilege
power and privilege continue to be drawn a long race lines in this country
"being spared injustice" is part of white privilege
"we're completely capable of finding our way forward...we are a good people"
"we are able to do this"
"it's a decision we get to make about if we're going to do this"
and that's a wrap