Thursday, June 26, 2008

For Children in Massachusetts Today is a New Day

It has taken ten years of advocacy by colleagues throughout Massachusetts to achieve this reform package. I am proud of the role MASCD has played in shaping the agenda. Working together with hundreds of educators, business leaders, parents and politicians, we have come to a new day for children. The power to transform is with us; let us use it wisely. "It's about all the kids!"

(Note: Pay particular attention to Goal 4: Innovation and Systemic Reform to Create a 21st Century Public Education System) Technical Help Request: Please comment on how to anchor this to the goal 4 section below if you know how. Thanks

Below is a communication I received from a colleague of mine in Massachusetts. I am the President of the Massachusetts Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (MASCD) and Mary Forte Hayes is the Executive Director. Yesterday Mary was at the Kennedy Library when Governor Deval Patrick announced the next generation of education reform. The last major educational reform in Massachusetts was in 1993.

Dear Colleagues,

It was an exciting day today (June 25, 2008) at the Kennedy Library, a perfect setting for the launch of a visionary plan for education in the Commonwealth. I was there, as were many education and policy leaders and friends of MASCD. The Governor unveiled his vision for education, which is a call to completely redesign the system as we know it. He kept repeating “Today is a new day,” with good effect, and with the backdrop of the wall of windows onto the blue sky and water of Boston harbor framing the skyline. The Governor stressed many times, as did Secretary of Education-designate Paul Reville, that “all children” means ALL. Paul Reville recapped details of the 10 year plan that have been shared over the past 2 days. There are some very bold actions included. They are consistent with our priorities and well-aligned with the Whole Child compact. See summary below, which I have taken from the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE). Thanks to MBAE for the timely summary.

Mary Forte Hayes
Ready for 21st Century Success

The New Promise of Public Education

Acknowledging that our schools "must ensure that high school graduates know and are capable of much more than ever before", this report calls for transforming public schools over the next decade to meet the needs of current and future realities rather than perpetuate past practices that did not prepare all students for the demands of higher education and a technologically driven economy. With an unequivocal commitment to eliminating disadvantages based on socio-economic status, the proposed reform strategy focuses on four challenges:

International competition and an outdated curriculum

- Massachusetts must shift its focus from a 20th century approach to teaching to a modern curriculum that includes 21st century themes such as global and cultural competency, financial literacy, and other applied skills as well as strengthening content ranging from math, science, and world languages to social sciences and the arts.

A stubborn achievement gap - This can only be closed by acknowledging that children have different needs based on the advantages and obstacles they encounter outside of school. Public education must be coordinated with other social and health services so all children can meet high standards.

An education workforce crisis - Student achievement depends on teacher quality. The teaching profession has to be promoted as the critical and valuable vocation that it is in order to attract and retain outstanding candidates. The system for preparing, supporting and evaluating teachers must be comprehensively re-designed.

A century-old system - The system of standards and accountability instituted in 1993 has brought us far, but reaching the goal of bringing all students to proficiency requires a new, individualized approach. In an economy where the same skills are needed for college and for jobs at family-sustaining wages, it will take new, differentiated approaches to give all students what they need to succeed.

Read the Full Report

Four Goals of Action Agenda

Putting Children's Learning Needs First

For each goal, the Patrick Administration has identified what will be achieved in the short (by 2011), mid (by 2015), and long(by 2020) terms to reach the stated vision. Details can be found at:

Goal 1: Raising Student Achievement

Key short term goals include increased support for early childhood education; an inter-agency Child and Youth Readiness cabinet; a pilot drop out prevention and intervention program for urban districts; Student Support Coordinators to link services for students in low-income schools; and a statewide data system that will provide a "Readiness Passport" to document all education and social service experiences received by every child.

Goal 2: Teachers and Education Leaders - Supported and Effective Educators

By 2011, establish differentiated pay for high-need locations and disciplines; pilot intensive induction and mentoring for new teachers; establish Readiness Science and Math Teaching Fellowship to increase supply of teachers in these fields; accelerate development of "real time" assessment data to support instruction; strengthen MCAS requirement with complementary measures of student growth and 21st century skills; build state capacity to attract and retain a highly competent, culturally diverse teaching force. Mid- and long-term actions would strengthen teacher preparation in several different ways and provide support for continued improvement at all education levels.

Goal 3: College, Career and Life Success

In addition to integrating 21st century skills into all aspects of public education; needs based financial aid would be increased; offer community college opportunities to early childhood educators and income-eligible parents; provide accelerated graduation and early college opportunities; allow in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants; build a school-to-college web portal; offer college readiness assessments to high school juniors; and guarantee transfer credit among public colleges and universities. In the longer term, additional initiatives to increase work and college readiness will be implemented, in some cases focused on students with specific needs.

Goal 4: Innovation and Systemic Reform to Create a 21st Century Public Education System

The Readiness School concept which has received much press attention is part of this goal, which would also establish a Readiness Finance Commission to recommend cost savings and efficiencies, potential sources of revenue, and options for a complete overhaul of the state's education finance system. Other key features of this goal are expanding learning time both during out-of-school time and the summer; establishing a public-private Commonwealth Education Innovation Fund to foster innovation; expand student access to online learning; and provide other incentives and programs to use technology to improve teaching and learning.

Links to Subcommittee Reports and Video of Announcements
Above summary provided by MBAE, email of 6-25-08.

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