Friday, February 27, 2009

Iowa Core and the Lake Wobegon Effect

Outside of the elusive 21st century skills, which has many educators befuddled, there often is a common theme when it comes to the Iowa Core and school districts (or AEAs): "You'll find that we already do a good job with the content and instruction of the Iowa Core."

Which can be interpreted as "All the talk of radical and drastic change applies to that district over there, not us." When you consider some districts have proficiency rates above 95% and solid ACT scores, you can see their point.

But, even they are wrong. I have met several educators who say "I do formative assessment", until they learn what formative assessment is (and is not). Many will mention they do "Quadrant D" work, except that work does not represent "real-world, unpredictable situations" and is actually Quadrant C.

Even that is irrelevant, though. Let's say we were all perfect. We were all models of excellent teaching, as I've seen in places like Norwalk and East Marshall. Regardless of past performance or current level of excellence, all of us have to accept the following maxims:

My district/agency must change to meet the needs of 21st century learners.
#2 We cannot be satisfied until we meet the needs of all learners.
#3 We cannot be satisfied until we succeed on assessments that measure what is truly important.

Given that #2 and #3 (the needs of learners and the assessments to measure those needs) are always changing, we can never be satisfied. And thus, we must always do #1.

Which, of course, is as welcome to some educators as another colonoscopy. "We already have good test scores, we already looked at scope and sequences and how to teach for understanding. You mean, we have to do it again?"

Constant change is the nature of education. Even for the Wobegon CSD.

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