Magazine article Leadership

Are You Worried about the Wrong Achievement Gap: The Common Core Standards Can Provide School Leaders with the Opportunity to Focus on the Content That Matters Most, Leaving More Time for Innovation

Magazine article Leadership

Are You Worried about the Wrong Achievement Gap: The Common Core Standards Can Provide School Leaders with the Opportunity to Focus on the Content That Matters Most, Leaving More Time for Innovation

Article excerpt

Tony Wagner (The Global Achievement Gap, 2008) tells us that we are worrying about the wrong achievement gap. He has created a list of the skills he believes students will most need in order to be successful. The list includes:

1. Critical thinking and problem solving;

2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence;

3. Agility and adaptability;

4. Initiative and entrepreneurship;

5. Effective oral and written communication;

6. Access to and analysis of information; and

7. Curiosity and innovation.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

What really happens in school

The gap that most concerns Wagner is the gap between these skills and what seems to happen in most schools every day. Wagner invites us to identify the skills we believe are most important and then take learning walks with others to see if what we believe is most important are the skills being developed in our classrooms. He thinks that if you do this you'll notice a gap. I think he's right.

As school leaders, we need to take much of the responsibility for that gap. For reasons that feel out of our control we have placed too much emphasis on the California Standards Tests and the California High School Exit Exam to inform us of a learning gap. Those tests are about subject matter content and give us no information about the processes that are in the list above. In our quest to achieve AYP and increase API, we may have lost sight of what makes QLT (quality).

I've been studying the Common Core Standards and I see much hope in them if we can get the tests right that will measure their attainment. …

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