It’s All About the Outcome

Anyone who has read Eduflack knows that I am a big proponent of outcomes,and not inputs.  I look for results over process.  In education, this is often a difficult fight.  So much effort and so many reputations are tied to the process that we can often lose sight of the end game.

Earlier this week, Eduflack was at an event and had the opportunity to hear Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine talk about his vision for education improvement in the Commonwealth.  Building an aggressive agenda that includes everything from preK to high school improvement to new governor’s STEM academies, Kaine has laid out a true vision.  Such vision can often be lost among the process weeds, though.

The Virginia governor also spoke to a philosophy that far too many so-called education governors need to subscribe to.  This is not an issue of choosing programs, this is about securing results.  To accomplish this, we need to be flexible.  Flexible in our choices.  Flexible in our approaches.  Certain of our goals.

Don’t understand what he means?  Take a look at elementary reading instruction.  It’s very easy for educators or school boards to step forward and say we should adopt program X or intervention Y.  We can choose such programs because they work, or we can select them because we recognize the name, we enjoyed the sales pitch, or we just had a feeling.

In selecting a program, our goal is reading achievement.  We want all students reading at grade level.  We want to encourage good readers to become better readers.  We want to help struggling readers.  And we want to measure the results.  We don’t need Reading First to set those goals.  It’s been the objective of elementary teachers since Dick and Jane first got together.

Unfortunately, in recent years we’ve gotten too caught up in the process.  And battles like the Reading Wars have made flexibility a bad word.  Kaine is right.  We need to be flexible if we expect to get results.  What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another.  We need the ability to adopt approaches that work in schools and classes and with kids just like ours.  And teachers need the ability to adapt to the individual needs of students or classes.

Yes, Virginia, results matter.  And flexibility helps us achieve those results.  Governor Kaine may be on to something here. 

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