Friday, February 10, 2012

Just be honest Governor Snyder

Governor Snyder, please be honest with me. You say that you'll give my school district a chance to get extra revenue if we follow six best practices. (See page A-5 in this report - paragraph starts with "Of this total . . .)

As I look at his list of six best practices I guess I am a little confused. Wikipedia, I know it may not be the authoritative source, says a "best practice is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark."

What are the results that the Governor believes these best practices will help us achieve? I can agree that monitoring individual student growth is a best practice. Marzano talks about the benefit of tracking student progress. This practice actually has an educational benefit. Focusing on student outcomes, measuring progress, reflecting on progress or the lack thereof - all of that makes sense. We should do that in schools. Students come to school to learn. We should be able to demonstrate that the time spent in school is worth it.

I would agree that offering opportunities for post-secondary coursework could be considered a best practice. However, I would suggest that the best practice is challenging every student to excel - to perform at a high level. All students should achieve at a high level. But students reach those high levels at different times. Those students who can move faster should be allowed to move faster. But not everyone moves at warp speed. For those that do move through the traditional curriculum quickly offering opportunities for post-secondary work in high school is appropriate. But every student should be challenged appropriately every day. That's the best practice!

But the other "best practices" - are they really best practices or just what the Governor wants us to do?  

Schools of choice? 

Policy holder for health care benefits? 

Online learning?

Where is the evidence that these are best practices?

Don't sell me mud and tell me it's chocolate pie!

If you really want my district to be the policy holder on health benefits, just tell me that's what you want. When you call it a best practice it suggests that if I follow this it will improve my district somehow. I don't believe that is true. A best practice is a widely recognized practice that consistently shows superior results when compared to other practices. Some of what you identify as "best practice," in my opinion, is just what you want us to do. 

Just be honest. Tell me you want me to do this. You don't have to justify it with the term "best practice." It's just what you want.

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