Measured Progress was a sponsor of the recent Education Week event, Leaders to Learn From, where thirteen school-district leaders from around the country were recognized for their vision, hard work, and impact. These are the innovators that seek to improve the lives of their students, teachers, families, and communities. Listening to the leaders describe their work, we were inspired to hear what district administrators can accomplish—in spite of major obstacles like budget cuts, staffing shortages, and more.
Keynote speaker and Stanford University professor Carol Dweck spoke about the importance of a growth mindset. Keynote speaker John B. King, Jr., the U.S. Secretary of Education, shared his vision for policymaking and his thoughts about the federal government’s role.
Here are our top three takeaways from the event.
- Partnerships create velocity.
Every single leader talked about partnerships and the other people or organizations that helped them accelerate the process of change. Many of their accomplishments happened because they had singular vision and the will to achieve, certainly. But each of these leaders acknowledged the collaborations that moved their projects forward.
A few of their initiatives, made possible through partnerships:
- Creating the first energy-independent school in the nation
- Providing every student a device and internet connectivity at home
- Reimagining the relationship between charter and public schools
- Building an interventionist framework to support every child’s needs
Sometimes the most fruitful partnerships lie outside the educational community. As one alumni leader asked us, “Have you looked to see what organizations your local United Way supports? Partner with all of them.” If it takes a village to raise a child, partner with other village organizations in your community to add support to your programs.
- Assessments have their place.
We know that when assessment is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail that can be tested. But this event reinforced our commitment to making sure that assessments fit into the system as a whole in the right way. District leaders reinforced the need for curriculum and assessments to line up, and asserted that high quality is worth paying for. Secretary King reminded everyone that assessments are not meant to be a compliance exercis—they’re meant to guide us with data, to know where kids and teachers need support. High quality performance tasks can help. Now is the time, because the newly passed ESSA opens up the conversation.
- Data must be actionable.
At Measured Progress, we’ve lived this truth for years. It was heartening to hear the number of district leaders focusing on data¾or wanting to be more focused on data—in order to make better decisions. In the words of one leader, “We use data to know what’s working.” Amen. Of course, the questions needing answers might be something like “How can we better support play-based kindergarten?” or “How many jackets do we need in our school’s clothing bank?”" —decisions that have may seem to have nothing to do with assessment. But they have everything to do with student learning and preparedness.
Measured Progress can help your districts turn data into action plans. We have thirty years of experience helping educators determine what to do next—and what to measure next, so you can see where you’ve been and where you’re going.