Public education is at a crossroads – a tipping point of sorts.
I recently was talking with a colleague about the "pendulum effect" we have as an institution.
Education is really bad about finding balance. In the early 1990s, we implemented proficiency tests to standardize the educational opportunities provided to Ohio's children in public schools. These assessments, given to limited grade levels and with specific scope, became the safeguard that all Ohio public school students were receiving as a "baseline" in education. In essence, the proficiency tests were the safety net for all schools.
Over the next several decades, Ohio shifted from the proficiency tests to the Ohio Achievement Assessments, to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests and now to the American Institutes for Research tests with ACTs for all high school juniors.
During each transition, the state and local districts, have invested millions of dollars in materials, curriculum, test prep materials and professional development. Testing has shifted from a week in the spring to hours upon hours of exams. Local districts also have contributed to this proliferation of testing by implementing local assessments and vendor-purchased tests to measure district priorities.
Now it seems the pendulum might be swinging back towards the middle – and in my opinion, back toward balance and sanity.
No single assessment can accurately measure all students' performance. In a state like Ohio, with the rapidly changing skills all students need to be truly "ready for tomorrow," we must employ a balanced assessment approach. We also must take into account the differences in our students and the different skills required in the job markets of today – and of the future.
As parents and community members, we want today's students to be successful as tomorrow's adults. We need each and every student, as an individual, to be prepared for a career and job in the future.
Not all jobs will require the same skills and certainly not all students need to attend a four-year college or university. There are jobs that require specific skills and aptitudes – jobs that go unfilled in central Ohio today. Let's work with business partners to prepare students for these jobs. Let's work together – as a community – to lift up students and promote opportunities in the job market.
Over the next year, the Hilliard City Schools, as part of a continuing journey to provide the best possible opportunities for every single graduate, will focus not only on academic performance but in finding the intersection of each student's interests, skills and values.
It isn't only about following a passion – it's about identifying skills and finding where each student's skills match what will be required to be ready for tomorrow.
Beginning in 2017-18, students in our middle school and high school buildings will have access to Naviance, a program to help with identification of interests and potential future employment opportunities. This technology also matches requisite skills, colleges that have applicable programs and workforce opportunities.
Hilliard also will utilize Panorama, a new program that will measure student growth mindset, grit, hope and compassion. We know these life skills are important in future success.
As a district – and as an education community as a whole – we must seek alignment and balance in our priorities. We must be clear in our intended outcome for each student. Our resource allocations and time must be aligned with our values.
We can't continue to let others define success for us; we must define success one student at a time. Each student deserves our best, each student must be pushed to his or her potential and each student must be ready for tomorrow when he or she walks across the graduation stage to receive a Hilliard diploma.
Hilliard Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection column for ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.