“The only way to improve outcomes
“High performance requires
The Prichard Committee has been looking to recalibrate its approach to school reform in Kentucky in the aftermath of Senate Bill 1.
To do so, they're going back to the very fundamentals Ed Prichard professed. It's all about quality teaching. And, nothing in the system should get in the way of the teacher or the student. This is clearly the right focus. (No mention of block schedules, multi-aged grouping, or assessment systems that measure school progress.)
To hone their views, Prichard turned to McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm that has studied the achievement gap and its impact on the American economy. And they've been reading McKinsey's "How the World's Best-Performing School Systems Come Out on Top."
The attempt here is to identify the most successful practices of the world's most successful schools, including:
- Getting the right people to become teachers
- Developing them into effective instructors
- Ensuring that the system is able to deliver the best possible instruction for every child
- The high-performing systems use two mechanisms for monitoring the quality of teaching and learning: Examinations and School review
- hands-on, practice oriented approaches to preparing teacher-candidates
- finding ways to recruit more experienced graduates
- pay starting salaries that are above the OECD average relative to their GDP per capita
- spend 18 to 20 percent of gross domestic product per capita on education
- develop effective processes for selecting the right teacher applicants, make entry to teacher training highly selective, and pay good (but not great) starting compensation
- great leadership at school level is a key enabling factor
- standards, assessment, and accountability programs
- lowered class sizes
- decentralization initiatives that include both school councils and charter schools - aimed at improving the quality of education in the nation’s schools
In a Prichard press release: Bold actions for education improvement, the Committee expanded upon McKinsey's focus calling for:
- Quality teaching in every classroom
- Principal leadership in schools
- Ongoing education for teachers, principals and superintendents
- An expansion of early childhood education (an on-going Prichard Committee focus)
- Engaging parents and communities in school improvement (Prichard's central approach)
- Raising expectations and changing school and community culture to reflect the changing world, and using technology as a tool in that work
The press release closes with these "building blocks of a world-class education system,"
Standards and Accountability: Globally-benchmarked standards; Good, transparent data; Every child is always on the agenda to challenge inequality
Human Capital: Recruit great people and train them well; Continuous improvement of pedagogical skills and knowledge; Great leadership at the school level
Structure and Organization: Effective, enabling central department and agencies; Capacity to manage change and engage communities at every level; Operational responsibility and budgets significantly devolved to school level
Note: The Prichard Committee clearly understands that charter schools and school councils - while complimentary concepts - are not the same thing. Perhaps they mentioned this to the governor in a report they recently sent, but they stop short of putting charter schools on their agenda despite McKinsey's recommendation.