Posts Tagged ‘advocacy’

00405Advocacy Demands Clear Message

May 3, 2010

Education Week, March 31, 2010 had two interesting articles. One was on the NAEP scores progress over the years and the other was titled “What Gifted Educators Can Learn From Sarah Palin.

What has sustained Sarah Palin is her ability to put out a very clear message to her base of voters. Her niche is exact and identifiable. Originally gifted education was defined by Lewis Terman, designer of the Stanford-Binet intelligence test, as an I.Q. 140 or more. This resulted in 1%-3% of the students who were the smartest of the smart who had extraordinary needs from the educational system. Over the past 60 years, Witty, Renzulli, and Gardiner expanded the definition to where giftedness was diluted to the point of absurdity. Advocates have become hard-pressed to define the gifted child. As a result, potential supporters – politicians and administrators – are confused since there is no longer a clear definition. It is easy for the public to ignore the gifted. On the other hand, Sarah Palin has articulated a “unique selling proposition” and she sticks to it.

Gifted education has always been a niche issue and will remain so. eLearning for K-12 education is currently a niche issue serving about 3%-5% of learning. But it has the potential to serve all students. The critical issue for advocates is to define the issue in a very clean and concise way to accelerate adoption. Since we are still in the disruptive part of the innovation cycle, we need to hammer hard on one issue:

The effect of eLearning on academic performance.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows NO PROGRESS. As much as educational statisticians like to play with statistical significance to call out “* Significantly different from 2009” there is no EFFECTIVE difference.

Currently 60% of students who are not classified as performing are classified as either achieving or failing to achieve a basic education. Basic education is below the standard needed to thrive in a 21st century world.

The eLearning advocate’s message is can be illustrated by data from eLearning exemplars. Arizona’s Wilson District is one of the oldest, and there are hundreds more across the U.S. Only six years after adopting a complete 21st Century eLearning system for their K-8 students, Wilson had improved their students’ academic performance from last in the state to above average.

A K-12 eLearning system description is complex. Effective implementation requires focus on dozens of issues and long range planning. Advocates must rise above this maze of details and focus a clear “Sarah Palin” type of message. This message must carry the current true-believers while attracting an audience ten times as great. Our best bet for this phase is to sell the potential attainment. For this we need a host of exemplars like Wilson District. You find them for me, and I will do a one pager that distills their academic performance increases into a clear and visual message.

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00322 DCI Legislation And National Ed TechPlan

March 22, 2010

There were a number of meetings last week to craft changes to HB2720, the Digital Curriculum Institute bill. The intent of these changes is to make this legislation more responsive to the needs of the entities who have to implement this bill, as well as the educators and providers whom it is intended to support. One recommended change is the name to Digital Content Office which would be housed in the Arizona Department of Education. Educators’ use of the term content is better aligned to the intent of the bill than the term curriculum. An office is a more flexible organizational structure for initiation of the effort than a formal institute.

There are other proposed changes that are being written into an amendment. I will copy you on this amendment when it is expected to be published within a week’s time. There are four weeks left to hear bills in the Senate. HB2720 is expected to be heard next week in Senate Education committee, March 31st 1:30 p.m.

A critical aspect of HB2720 is that its initial funding must come from other than Arizona government sources. A major potential source of support is the federal government. But for this support to be available the DCI (DCO?) should be aligned to the new National Educational Technology Plan (NETP). Although this type of institute is not specified in the plan, there are many aspects of the plan that would be strongly supported by a functioning DCI.

I combed through the 23 Goals and Recommendations and Grand Challenges in the NETP.

NETP Executive Summary 14pp: http://tinyurl.com/yeljk8a

I believe that these goals, recommendations and challenges guide the design, or need the support, of a Digital Content Center type of operation. I have extracted the following aspects:

“…Standards and learning objectives for all content areas…;”

“…Learning resources that use technology…;”

“…Capacity of educators and educational institutions to use technology to improve assessment materials and processes…;”

“…Provide access to the most effective teaching and learning resources, especially where they are not other wise available, and to provide more options for all learners at all levels.

“Leverage open education resources to promote innovation and creative opportunities for all learners… “

“…Development and use of interoperability standards of content…improve decision making at all levels.”

Grand challenges:

…Integrated system … access to learning experiences…;

…Integrated system for assessment…;

…An integrated approach for capturing, aggregating, mining and sharing content…data,…;

Bods well for national support of the DCO.

00315 Innovation: Fraught With Peril and Opportunity

March 15, 2010

Successful innovation has a sequence of phases:

1. Invention, early adoption, rapid acceptance by one market;

2. Expansion into multiple markets;

3. Legacy system transformation driven by outside disruptive innovations based on technology, societal and economic changes;

4. Dying or being absorbed into an emerging innovation.

Innovation is a highly unpredictable process. It is rife with unintended consequences and

1. Our system of education was invented by the Prussians in the early 1700’s to educate sons of the elite. It reached the U.S. market by the late 1880’s with the compulsory education movement.

2. The market served expanded from boys to boys and girls during the first half of the 1900’s and to minority populations and special education students in the last half of the 1900’s. The dominant mode of innovation has been market extensions through government mandates and significant increases in government funding. The result has been huge increases in student learning time, graduation rates and economic and societal benefits.

3. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s the legacy system invented by the Prussians had expanded to all available markets. But societal needs demanded a change to include quality with quantity. The emerging social need was for K-12 to educate college and career ready students for the 21st century. The demand curve had crossed over the supply curve and the scramble was on. Change was in the air.

Hope for rapid success has faded and we seem stuck in phase 3. Inside the system, grade inflation worked for awhile, but was then discredited. Outside advocacy communities came on strong with whole language, charter schools, school choice, essential skills, standards, school improvements, test score data to guide decision making and a host of others. Many are based on market-competitiveness models.

A recent book by an intellectual leader in this movement, Diane Ravitch is: “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How testing and Choice are Undermining Education.” Dr. Ravitch wants to return to the traditional school structure. Why she is doing an about face on her 20 years of change efforts is explored in an Education Week  article, March 10, 2010 www.edweek.org .

Chester E. Finn Jr. of the Thomas Fordham Institute, a long time associate of Diane Ravitch, agrees with her depressing analysis of the data. But he espouses renewed efforts to destroy the old structure and replace it with the new.

With humility to their much greater depth of wisdom and knowledge, I believe both are wrong. Reverting to innovation Phase 2 or jumping over Phase 3 to Phase 4 makes little sense.

We have 20 years of data which show that a dozen piecemeal approaches do not work. Even added together, there has been scant increase in academic performance of K-12 education as a whole. There is a big difference between statistically significant improvement and significant improvement in effect factor.

We must reach the effect factor goal of at least one sigma (or letter grade) improvement across the board for all 60 million students for all courses and grade levels. We must increase the graduation rate to an effective 95% whether through formal or informal means of education. Graduating students must be prepared and eager to prosper in a world that requires life-span learning.

The 300 year old innovation of grouping teachers and students within the traditional organizational structure needs to make the transformation with a long strategic system design approach. Outside advocates have a huge role to play to support the transformative changes in school finance, human resources, technology based systems, curriculum, data and decision making. But the real innovation adopters within Phase 3 are our leaders and teachers currently within the education system. Together we can pull it off.