Trondelag sept10

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Ben Levin, professor i utdanning, ledelse og politikk ved Universitetet i Toronto, innledning på møte i oppvekstkommisjonen for Nord-Trøndelag september 2010

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Trondelag sept10

  1. 1. System Improvement Nord Trondelag, Norway Ben Levin OISE/University of Toronto
  2. 2. Questions to Ask <ul><li>What are the positives and constraints in your setting? </li></ul><ul><li>Which of these ideas are most promising or important? Which seem most difficult? </li></ul><ul><li>What is confusing or missing or seems incorrect? </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Importance of Improvement <ul><li>Education matters more than ever </li></ul><ul><li>Schools have improved over many years </li></ul><ul><li>We can do better still </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We don’t know the limits of improvement </li></ul></ul>
  4. 5. Ontario 2003–2009 <ul><li>From high conflict, stagnant results, public dissatisfaction, and poor morale </li></ul><ul><li>To improving student results, low conflict, improved educator morale, </li></ul><ul><li>and increased public satisfaction </li></ul>
  5. 6. Examples <ul><li>Literacy/numeracy at standard up from 54% to 70% </li></ul><ul><li>High school graduation from 68% to 79% </li></ul><ul><li>Low performing schools down by 75% </li></ul><ul><li>95% of students at ‘competence’ </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher attrition down sharply </li></ul>
  6. 7. How to Do This <ul><li>The right changes </li></ul><ul><li>The right implementation </li></ul><ul><li>A positive approach </li></ul><ul><li>Managing the politics and distractions </li></ul>
  7. 8. Main Elements – 1 <ul><li>Public goals and targets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Simple, clear, with high consensus </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. Goals <ul><li>Better outcomes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>75% at standard in literacy and numeracy, age 12 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>85% high school graduation rate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reduced gaps in outcomes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnicity, SES, gender, disability… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increased public confidence </li></ul>
  9. 10. Main Elements – 1 <ul><li>Public goals and targets </li></ul><ul><li>Clear strategy, strong leadership </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At all levels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beyond projects to system change </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sector support </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Positive two-way communication </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sector capacity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Helping people do better </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. Main Elements – 2 <ul><li>Policy is supportive rather than central </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Curriculum, assessment, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Support well-grounded practices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Build on what already works </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimize “mandates” but work towards standard practice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stay focused </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It takes years </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Coherence and alignment </li></ul>
  11. 12. Things Not to Do <ul><li>Focus on structures – i.e. size, organization </li></ul><ul><li>Attack teachers or students </li></ul><ul><li>Use a single test as the only measure </li></ul>
  12. 13. The Right Changes <ul><li>Change teaching and learning practices in all schools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Best evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Student engagement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reach out to parents and community </li></ul><ul><li>Build sector capacity and commitment </li></ul><ul><li>Improve leadership skills </li></ul><ul><li>Approach curriculum and assessment </li></ul><ul><li>as servants, not masters </li></ul>
  13. 14. Secondary Schools <ul><li>Subject specializations </li></ul><ul><li>Preparation for post-secondary </li></ul><ul><li>Double standard </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher and public beliefs about what students can do </li></ul><ul><li>‘ A good outcome for every student’ </li></ul>
  14. 15. Strategy for Secondary Schools <ul><li>Knowing students and tracking progress </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking about delivery </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Curriculum, course offerings, timetable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Engaging the community </li></ul><ul><li>Changing daily teaching practice </li></ul>
  15. 16. Where to Focus <ul><li>Think ‘system’ more than ‘school’ </li></ul><ul><li>All schools need to improve </li></ul><ul><li>Specific attention to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Low-performing schools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Coasting” schools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Priority groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Poor, immigrants, special education, disability </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 17. Implementation <ul><li>Focus on system and whole school changes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid “projects” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Create infrastructure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevant to the size of the challenge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Support people as well as resources </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be relentless about reminders, events, </li></ul><ul><li>and supports </li></ul><ul><li>Build research, evaluation, and data </li></ul>
  17. 18. Engaging the Community <ul><li>Parents </li></ul><ul><li>Employer, unions, workplaces </li></ul><ul><li>Post-secondary institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Community groups and organizations </li></ul>
  18. 19. Improving Practices <ul><li>Use what we know </li></ul><ul><li>Build on good practices towards universal use </li></ul><ul><li>Start with easier steps </li></ul><ul><li>Take ownership </li></ul><ul><li>Work collectively </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In teams (subjects as much as schools) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cross-school work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Root practices in school settings </li></ul><ul><li>Use data effectively </li></ul>
  19. 20. Importance of Systems <ul><li>Regular events to review data </li></ul><ul><li>and progress </li></ul><ul><li>Processes to ensure every student </li></ul><ul><li>is considered </li></ul><ul><li>Prevention rather than remediation </li></ul><ul><li>Building a system across schools </li></ul>
  20. 21. Building Sector Support <ul><li>Build strong political leadership </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Guiding coalition” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Align with local leaders </li></ul><ul><li>Respect all partners </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal to educators’ ideals </li></ul><ul><li>Build staff support </li></ul><ul><li>Stay focused and aligned </li></ul><ul><li>Develop public confidence and support </li></ul><ul><li>Engage students </li></ul>
  21. 22. Public Confidence <ul><li>People must believe that the schools deliver value </li></ul><ul><li>This takes sustained effort </li></ul><ul><li>Day to day work matters more than PR efforts </li></ul><ul><li>Must be simple, clear messages backed by action </li></ul>
  22. 23. Communication and Support <ul><li>Endless communication to sector </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enlisting support from leaders and teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constant positive reinforcement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respectful but with expectations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Regular public communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Successes and challenges </li></ul></ul>
  23. 24. Questions for Consideration <ul><li>What are the positives and constraints in your setting? </li></ul><ul><li>Which of these ideas are most promising or important? Which seem most difficult? </li></ul><ul><li>What is confusing or missing or seems incorrect? </li></ul>
  24. 26. How to Move Ahead <ul><li>Balance vision with realism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is important/what can actually be done </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Longer-term ideas and short-term actions </li></ul><ul><li>Think about implementation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How can this be brought about? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Create ongoing discussion </li></ul>
  25. 27. Some Specific Ideas <ul><li>The High Skills Major </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides a way to combine work with school, connected to real qualifications and to post-secondary education </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leadership teams in each school </li></ul><ul><ul><li>With designated responsibility to track all students’ progress and intervene when problems are occurring </li></ul></ul>
  26. 28. More Specifics <ul><li>Student Success teachers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An additional teacher in each secondary school with responsibility to track, support and advocate for students who are struggling </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Credit recover </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows students to complete course requirements without having to repeat in their entirety </li></ul></ul>
  27. 29. More Specifics <ul><li>Student Success Commission </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Joint with teacher unions to make sure implementation of initiatives could proceed smoothly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Speak Out </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Initiative for students to suggest changes and ideas that would improve their school experience </li></ul></ul>
  28. 30. Last Specifics <ul><li>Dual credits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allows students to take post-secondary courses while still in secondary school and count them for credit in both places </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Independent learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gives students more opportunities (or the requirement) to demonstrate independent learning skills </li></ul></ul>
  29. 31. How to Deal with Resistance <ul><li>How to deal with resistance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expect and accept it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Listen to reasons, try to deal with them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invite participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marginalize </li></ul></ul>
  30. 32. Inspired teachers <ul><li>Teaching, not teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Aim for always good, occasionally inspired </li></ul><ul><li>Student feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Peer support/pressure </li></ul><ul><li>Research on good practice </li></ul>
  31. 33. Ontario – Non-Successes <ul><li>Some schools have not improved </li></ul><ul><li>Too many initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom practices are hard to change </li></ul><ul><li>Some leaders too authoritarian </li></ul><ul><li>Links with community not strong enough </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing modifications, do not paint yourselves into a corner </li></ul>
  32. 34. Teacher Training <ul><li>Low priority area </li></ul><ul><li>Hard to change </li></ul><ul><li>Small impact </li></ul><ul><li>Instead, work mostly with teachers already in schools </li></ul><ul><li>But do build partnerships with universities </li></ul>
  33. 35. ‘ Room to move’ <ul><li>Imagination as to what is possible </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal to idealism </li></ul><ul><li>Specific examples – historical and current – of what has been achieved </li></ul>
  34. 36. Avoiding this work as a ‘reform’ <ul><li>Use a different word – ‘improvement’? </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge and build on past success </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is a next step </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Appeal to </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on students and what happens to them </li></ul>
  35. 37. Thank You!

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