In Case You’re Wondering: Defining a Vision
Stretching for a Vision of Continuous Improvement
My vision for the Emporia Public Schools rests on a mindset of continuous improvement. My hope is that our teachers, administrators and support staff take pride in the successes they are having each and every day, regardless of their magnitude. Our #EmporiaProud campaign empowers our staff to showcase the great things going on across the district. Reading and reflecting on the #EmporiaProud stories continue to inspire me.
I hope the stories inspire all educators to reach a little higher knowing that we should never be comfortable with where we are. I want all our staff to value the concept of continuous improvement. One of our principals describes this mindset as a constant state of “chasing better.”
I want the success stories to lift up our best and brightest and make them want to be even better. I often quote Maya Angelou who said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Data helps us know better and can inspire us to do better.
Medical professionals rely on data to diagnose health problems and to prescribe treatment plans. Without the right medical information, doctors cannot help us get better.
Reflecting on data in education is equally important. Teachers use student performance data to understand what kids know and what they have not mastered. It allows them to plan their instruction to address those areas that need attention. Teachers need good information and that is why we spend time collecting, analyzing and reacting to data.
One of my goals for this district is to create a safe, comfortable environment that allows us to share student data with our colleagues in hopes of identifying ways to get better!
As an administrative team, we are starting to look at data from a variety of different perspectives. First and foremost, we will have data conversations that connect multiple pieces of information. I want the data to spark curiosity, conversations and ultimately more questions. We will look at trends, study other like districts and learn what are they doing or not doing to get similar or different results.
We are approaching the season of Kansas State Assessments. This time of year can be stressful for teachers and students. The assessments are rigorous and they take a great deal of time. Historically, state assessments have gotten a lot of attention among education professionals, state and federal policymakers, and local, state and national media. Under the old No Child Left Behind law, schools and districts were ranked and rated by the single average score of proficiency. We are happy those days are behind us.
Assessment scores do not tell the whole story of a child’s progress in school. They are merely a snapshot in time that helps teachers make adjustments in instruction. We use assessment scores in combination with grades on daily assignments, teacher-developed tests, and student portfolios that demonstrate what they can do and what they know.
This spring, I am challenging our administrators and our teachers to take a fresh, new look at data. Let’s not dread the discussions. Instead, let’s stay curious and see what we can learn from the information. Then, let’s use what we know to move the district forward. Let’s use the numbers as inspiration to learn more and perform at even higher levels.