I am very pleased to present this issue of In Conversation as it provides me with the opportunity to say once again that I have long believed that we are well on our way to achieving a level and quality of school and system leadership that is second to none in the world. Since the launch of the Ontario Leadership Strategy (OLS) in 2008, we have been recognized internationally as one of the world’s top school systems, and as a system that is building leadership capacity for the future. And that, I believe, is a tribute to the work of our school and system leaders.
A critical new theme of the 1990’s was how to achieve large scale reform. In the current decade sustainability has been added as a major concern. These twin concepts represent a radical shift from understanding individual school innovation toward establishing system change that generates and supports continuous improvement on a large scale.
In this paper we use literacy and to a certain extent numeracy initiatives as examples of attempts at large scale sustainable reform. We first describe the sources we use from our own and others work — a lively body of multi-year attempts at large scale reform. Second, we offer a tri-level model— school/district/state, along with evidence to demonstrate what is necessary at each of these three levels in the pursuit of system-wide reform. Third, we identify an agenda of unfinished business in order to take us to the next level of sustainable reform.
Alive in the Swamp vividly articulates the key components needed for digital innovations to be transformational in a practical, easy-to-use tool that has applicability across the spectrum, from leaders of large school systems to education entrepreneurs. As education systems across the world continue to struggle with learner engagement, student achievement and equity, this work is more relevant and necessary than ever before.
Integrating Technoloyg, Pedagogy and Change Knowledge
The digital revolution is transforming our work, our organisations and our daily lives. Driverless cars are now legal in three American states. One third of payments in Kenya are made via mobile phones. Wearable computing will soon mean that your jacket will monitor your heart rate (should you want it to). I have seen a violin - played beautifully - that was 3-D printed.
This revolution is already in homes across the developed world and increasingly in the developing world too. And there, it is transforming the way children and young people play, access information, communicate with each other and learn. But, so far, this revolution has not transformed most schools or most teaching and learning in classrooms.
The goal of this workshop is to establish a change process that successfully accomplishes large-scale reform as measured by teacher and student engagement, and increases in student achievement including raising the bar and closing the learning gap for all students.
Introducing the drivers for whole system reform
‘Whole system reform’ is the name of the game and ‘drivers’ are those policy and strategy levers that have the least and best chance of driving successful reform. A ‘wrong driver’ then is a deliberate policy force that has little chance of achieving the desired result, while a ‘right driver’ is one that ends up achieving better measurable results for students. Whole system reform
is just that – 100 per cent of the system – a whole state, province, region or entire country. This paper examines those drivers typically chosen by leaders to accomplish reform, critiques their inadequacy, and offers an alternative set of drivers that have been proven to be more effective at accomplishing the desired goal, which I express as … the moral imperative of raising the bar (for all students) and closing the gap (for lower performing groups) relative to higher order skills and competencies required to be successful world citizens.
Strategies that give you the freedom to change and the power to make a real difference - personally and in your organization.
Four frogs are sitting on a log, and one decides to jump off. How many frogs are left? Th answer is
four, not three, because deciding is not the same as doing.
This paper is about how an entire system from bottom to top can engage in systematic, deeper reform on a continuous basis — from school and community, through district and regions, to system or national levels. It’s about getting the agenda right comprehensive, coherent, deep focus on teaching and learning) and doing it in a way that results in continuous improvement in actuall practice.
The changes in this book were prepared to serve as a resource document for the National Education Association's (NEA, 1997) Keys project. Keys is an acronym for "Keys to Excellence in your Schools". NEA has identified 35 factors essential to effective schools, and has developed a survey instrument designed to gather data on these items, and in turn to feed back the data to
participating schools. The 35 items cluster into five main domains:
• shared understanding and commitment to high goals
• open communication and collaborative problem solving
• continuous assessment for teaching and learning
• personal and professional learning
• resources to support teaching and learning
This article represents a conceptual history of the concept of school development and its relationship to related concepts of school effectiveness, school improvement, implementation, organizational development, learning theories, system reform and so on.
It is not an empirical review or a detailed chronological account. Rather, it is a ‘thought piece’ on the philosophy and practice of education reform in terms of where we have come from and where we are today. I have drawn heavily on my own work in which I have chronicled and contributed to this broad education improvement field since 1975.
In 2003 Ontario’s schools were in a troubled state. The achievement of students was ‘good’ but flat lined — stagnant results year after year. Morale of teachers was low; the schools as a whole could be characterized as ‘loosely-coupled’ and without focus. The system was downtrodden.
Now in early 2013, the overall performance of the almost 5,000 schools in the province has dramatically improved on most key measures, and continues to improve. According to international measures and independent expert assessment, Ontario is recognized as and is proven to be the best school system in the English-speaking world — and right up at the top with Finland, Singapore and South Korea.
A theory is a way of organizing ideas that makes sense of the world. A theory of action is a way of understanding the world in a way that identifies insights and ideas for effectively improving it.
This chapter is about a theory of action for whole system improvement in education. There are three conditions that such a theory must meet for the task at hand. First, it must meet the systemness criterion. Do the ideas stand a chance of addressing the whole system, not just a few hundred schools here and there? Second, our theory must make a compelling case that using the ideas will result in positive movement. We are talking about improvement after all — going from one state to another state. Third, such a theory must demonstrably tap into and stimulate people’s motivation. I ask the reader to keep these three criteria in mind in assessing the theory I am about to offer, and in comparing it with other competing theories of action. Thus, to what extent do other theories or mine measure up to the systemness, movement, and motivation criteria.
The first edition of The Challenge of Change was published in 1997. It turned out that this was precisely the year when the field of educational change began a major shift toward deeper action and large-scale reform.
The occasion was Tony Blair’s first term election in England in May, 1997. He came into power with a clear and explicit education platform in which literacy and numeracy were named as the core priorities. Blair and his government committed in advance to targets of 80% proficiency in literacy and 75% in numeracy for 11-year-olds — starting at a base of 62%. This was an enormous undertaking because it involved the entire system of 20,000 schools and a timeline of essentially four years.
This article reviews the history of large-scale education reform and makes the case that large-scale or whole system reform policies and strategies are becoming increasingly evident. The review briefly addresses the pre 1997 period concluding that while the pressure for reform was mounting that there were very few examples of deliberate or successful strategies being developed. In the second period—1997 to 2002—for the first time we witness some specific cases of whole system reform in which progress in student achievement was evident. England and Finland are cited as two cases in point. In 2003–2009 we began to observe an expansion of the number of systems engaged in what I call tri-level reform—school/ district/government. As Finland, Singapore, Alberta, Canada, Hong Kong, and South Korea continued to demonstrate strong performance in literacy, math and science, Ontario joined the ranks with a systematic tri-level strategy which virtually immediately yielded results and continues to do so in 2009. The nature of these large-scale reform strategies is identified in this article. It can be noted that very little productive whole system reform was going on in the United States. Aside from pockets of success at the level of a few districts since 2000, and despite the presence of a ‘policy without a strategy’ in the form of No Child Left Behind the US failed to make any progress in increasing student achievement. In the final section of the paper I consider the early steps of the Obama
administration in light of the ‘theory of action’ of whole system reform identified in this article and predict that there we will see a great expansion and deepening of large-scale reform strategies in the immediate future, not only in the U.S. but across the world.
Let's put the worries about our new curriculum into perspective. We live in an increasingly challenging, complex, inter-connected and unpredictable world beset by a range of seemingly insoluble problems.
This is the view of Thomas Homer-Dixon (pictured), an expert in peace and conflict studies, who believes these problems arise from "tectonic stresses". He identifies five: population stress, energy stress, environmental stress, climate stress and economic stress (the ever-widening gap between rich and poor people).
How S y s t e m s I m p r o v e : A C o n s t e l l a t i o n o f F o r c e s
Whatever one’s style, every leader, to be effective, must have and work on improving his or her moral purpose. Moral purpose is about both ends and means. Authentic leaders, in other words, display character, and character is the defining characteristic of authentic leadership.
Whether people are driven by egoistic (self-centered) or altruistic (unselfish) motives, the fact is that all effective leaders are driven by both.
§ Read the quotes and select the one that is most important to you.
§ Complete a Quick Write explaining why you selected it.
In this workshop, key strategies that integrate quality ideas with quality change processes will be presented as they apply to concrete change situations.
Participants will learn about effective approaches to each of the following levels: within school success; success across schools and regions; and how to relate to the state and federal levels. Specific examples will be examined at each level. Next generation reform will be identified related to factors that will deepen and accelerate learning required for future societies through powerful
new pedagogies linked to digital resources.