The Road Taken
July 10, 2012
Robert Frost, one of my favorite poets, wrote “The Road Not Taken.” It’s widely taught in our schools and with good reason because it’s a great poem. But with apologies to the poet, I want to explain the road we’re taking to remodel public education over the next few years.
As I see it, the road to public education remodeling moves us toward a system that is more technology dependent than ever, with greater emphasis on uncovering and closing gaps in learning and an underlying goal of a more personalized education so that every child can reach his or her full potential.
On the technology front, that means different kinds of assessments, more virtual learning for students and teachers, a rapid move toward digital textbooks, and greater ability to collaborate on line. We’re also going to see more reliance on personal devices like smartphones and notebooks and I predict that educators are going to begin to view these devices more as learning tools and less as distractions. All of this electronic communication is going to mean our school districts and charter schools are interconnected, with greater access to a world of knowledge available to students around the clock.
The school building will evolve into a place where students come to apply content, think critically, interact with their teachers and collaborate. Testing will evolve more toward finding students’ deficiencies early in the year with the objective of reaching learning goals and less toward measuring how students fall short at the end of the year.
I see us moving away from 19th and 20th century artifacts of learning such as grades, grading and seat time for credit and toward anytime, anyplace learning that goes on across the calendar. I also anticipate intensive debate among policymakers as these changes move forward.
We started down this road when we joined the Race to the Top and accepted some $400 million in federal grant money to accelerate our education remodeling efforts, and we’ve already traveled more than a few miles. In fact, we expect many of these changes to be in place by the time we complete our RttT grant in 2015.
Some might call it the road less traveled. I call it the right road for our children’s future as we continue to pursue our goal of graduating every student career and college ready.
June St. Clair Atkinson