Did you know that New York State has nearly 800 public school districts? (Source: nysed.gov). This ranks New York in the top 10 states with the highest number of school districts per state (Source: nces.ed.gov). Within those districts exist some of the largest and smallest in the country. In a small village between the Shawangunk Ridge and the Catskill Mountains, Ellenville Central School District (CSD) serves 1,475 students in seven different communities. On the drive to Ellenville, you will face highways that bleed into long, windy roads, and just before you approach the village, seemingly out of nowhere, you will be greeted with a beautiful view of a mountain in which Ellenville sits at the base of. When you talk to an Ellenville Blue Devil, there is no shortage of pride and love for their sprawling community. This district is committed to its students and bettering itself to create more equitable outcomes.
At Education Elements, we pride ourselves on being a responsive organization. Like many organizations, we can fall short of true responsiveness, but we are proud of how nimble, engaged, and positive our team is as a result of responsive practices. Our true north lies in seeking feedback to best understand the experiences of our community members. Feedback, in every way it is offered, allows us to make improvements suggested by those who have a stake in the work. Obvious, right? This may be an easy concept to grasp, but the gathering and processing of feedback from all relevant community members can be a complicated, time-consuming, and confusing process – and that’s in a small company with a team aligned around the idea. For schools and districts looking to implement change, whether it be by the introduction of new or additional technology, shifting pedagogical approaches, curriculum adoption, team reorganizations, or strategic planning, community engagement can be a paralyzingly large task.
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During speeches in January, several state leaders kicked off the year with strong commitments of money and resources to improve literacy in their schools through the immediate implementation of evidence-based reading instruction, often referred to as the “science of reading.” The governors of New York and Massachusetts offered guidelines, not mandates, for school districts to focus on adopting reading instruction practices and materials that are evidence-based. The Maryland State Board of Education approved a resolution declaring that all public schools must be aligned to the Science of Reading effective School Year 2024-25. With this resolution, Maryland joins over 35 other states and the District of Columbia that have committed to full alignment with the science of reading over the past ten years. These states’ goals are overarchingly the same, but their plans, timelines, and benchmarks differ. What do they need to consider and include to be successful in improving student reading outcomes?
Graduate profiles are becoming increasingly popular in districts and can function in a multitude of ways. From formulating the basis for an instructional vision to getting started with performance based grading, graduate profiles clearly articulate outcomes for learners and provide critical guidance for staff and leaders. What is a Profile of a Graduate? A graduate profile may also be referred to as Portrait of a Graduate, Profile of a Graduate, Journey of a Graduate, or Journey of a Learner. The precise term is not as important as the way in which it was created, and how it functions within your district or school community. At Education Elements we believe in the importance of building and creating a profile collaboratively; that the process of creation is, in fact, just as important as the end product. We also believe that when designing a graduate profile, it is important to do so with a student-centered approach. Read the following five tips for planning that will lead to an impactful and relevant graduate profile that your community is excited about.
In 2009, Professor Tina Seelig looked over her class of Stanford business students and assigned a simple challenge. Working in groups, the students were given $5 and 2 hours to make the highest possible return on their money. They had a week to plan their strategy with almost unlimited creativity. At the end of the challenge, each group gave a 3 minute presentation to share their process and results with their peers. Most people faced with a similar challenge would follow one of two logical routes to secure a return on investment (ROI): Focus on the money and try to “flip” it - buy an item for $5 and sell it for $10 Focus on the time allotment of 2 hours and try to “side hustle” - engage in “gig economy” jobs to make additional income
Our schools operate at a rapid pace as they are dynamic environments with a number of moving parts. As leaders, we are continually attending to matters of teaching and learning, making sure our curricula are rigorous and standards-based, checking in on culture and learning outcomes using data to measure results…and much more. Undeniably, there is a long list of priorities. To execute these work streams well and to best serve our students, we must engage in responsive strategic planning. Too often, districts create multiple plans that don’t guide or prioritize the needs well, creating chaos, resulting in a lack of a true roadmap. Many districts benefit from developing a comprehensive 3-5 year strategic plan. By establishing a robust planning process, you can deepen your understanding of stakeholder needs, build coherence across district initiatives, prioritize efforts to maximize value for students, and define success metrics. It is important for other school-based or district-wide plans to fit well with the overall comprehensive and responsive strategic district plan.