by Matthew Hurt
If one were to ask Virginians whether we wish to have the best educational system in the country, the answer would be a resounding “Yes!” However, if “What does that look like?” were to be the follow-up question, we would get quite a wide variety of answers. It appears that we have not gained consensus on this question, even among the key decision-making bodies in the state. If we don’t have a commonly held definition of what constitutes successful schooling, how can we ever accomplish that goal?
During my leadership journey I have learned a number of important lessons that are critical to the success of any organization. First, the organization must identify desired outcomes and ensure those outcomes are measurable. Second, progress toward those outcomes must be monitored regularly. Third, if acceptable progress is not realized, impediments to that progress must be identified and mitigated. Fourth, the organization must maintain a disciplined focus on the desired outcomes and not be lured into investing in extraneous initiatives. Fifth, if not everyone in the organization is lined up and pulling in the same direction, the organization will not be able to achieve the desired outcomes — therefore it is imperative to get a critical mass of folks on board.
Recently the Board of Education has been entertaining different ideas of how to update our state accountability system. Renewed focus has been placed on this due to declining proficiency on state Standards of Learning assessments (even prior to the pandemic) and significant declines in Reading 4 and Math 4 results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests relative to other states. It seems pretty clear that most constituents are not satisfied with the current accountability provisions, and they have not yielded success for our students. Continue reading