The question that continues to haunt me is this – “Nothing has worked before, so how can we ensure that this approach will work?” During the IJCE meeting, several legislators brought up some issues that have been around for 30 years. These issues included:
- You can’t teach kids if there is no discipline.
- Unless you change the demographics of the community, engage parents, find people jobs, provide health care, provide nutrition and other services, you cannot possibly expect to make a difference with these students.
- Teachers who are not successful in these schools could be moved to other schools with higher socio-economic conditions, and they would then be successful teachers.
- We should not blame teachers and principals for the lack of parenting and support of children in the community. Schools cannot do it alone.
We have many success stories in Kentucky that also need to be shared. I encourage readers to send me those success stories. We have attempted to identify those schools that are closing achievement gaps and then share their best practices. We will continue to identify those schools and elevate their status through recognition and rewards.
For more than 38 years in education, I have heard these same concerns. However, my purpose in Kentucky is to overcome these barriers and meet the vision of EVERY child proficient and prepared for success. I was reminded of a great resource of Kati Haycock and the Ed Trust (www.edtrust.org). I was also reminded of the key question we need to ask all of our schools and the adults who either work in the schools, support the schools and/or lead the schools – “How many schools would I have to show you that have closed achievement gaps and proven that EVERY child can learn to high levels before you would believe and commit to the goal of EVERY child in YOUR school reaching success?”
If the answer is “more than one,” then we do not have a child problem, we have an adult problem.
For those of you interested in reading more, I have copied information about Ed Trust’s “Success Stories” below so that Kentucky leaders and adults who work with children can see places just like theirs that are being successful and overcoming the barriers. KDE and the Kentucky Board of Education are committed to the vision of EVERY child proficient and prepared for success. We do not accept that this cannot be done. In the next three to five years, we will have a laser focus on this work. We will certainly not make every adult happy; however, we have to believe that we will help more children learn.
Success Stories from Ed Trust
Some schools have beaten the odds. They’ve made significant strides in narrowing the achievement gaps, attained proficiency levels that significantly exceeded the averages in their states, or improved student performance at an especially rapid pace. Follow the links below to read about the teachers, principals, and others who have made this possible.
Some of these schools are truly exceptional. To inspire and encourage other educators in the gap-closing movement, The Education Trust each year at our national conference honors these high-performing schools with Dispelling the Myth Awards.
These schools don’t offer simple answers or easy solutions, but several common strategies emerge from their practices. They provide a rich curriculum coupled with strong, focused instruction. They have high expectations for all students. They use data to track student progress and individual student needs. And they employ purposeful professional development to improve teachers’ skills.
These stories and more have been collected in book form in It’s Being Done: Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (2007) and How It’s Being Done: Urgent Lessons from Unexpected Schools (2009). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for prices for single books and bulk orders. You can read about Dispelling the Myth Award-winning schools and others by following the links contained in the web site at http://www.edtrust.org/dc/resources/success-stories.