Teacher Professor

January 27, 2012

Change in Education- Why, What, How

Filed under: Schools — Teacher Professor @ 7:30 pm
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Notes from a First District RESA session with the GA State Superintendent- Guest Speaker

Willard Daggett– January 27, 2012

CEO of International Center for Leadership in Education

We need to be looking at countries with growth- not those who are already on top.  During the past 5  years, even in a global recession, there are countries with double digit growth:

  • Vietnam
  • Indonesia
  • Brazil

We are used to a Euro-centric model of education- and the Asian model is eating us alive.

Problems with cultural differences- they do not accept special education and they do not allow all children to live.  His daughter, born with epilepsy and developmental differences would have, by state policy, received no medication until age 3.  Survival of the fittest.  Not a perfect comparison- we see potential in the underdog- but we also have to focus on developing all of us.

Change is hard in American schools:

  • Just try to change the bell schedule of a high school
  • Just try to change the room where a teacher teaches.

We are this close to losing public education and everyone else thinks they know how to fix it except those in public education.

Myth:  It is a myth that schools are failing. More kids graduating  %, scores are up.  Even with:

  • Standards: Georgia has never seen a standard it didn’t like.
  • More tests
  • More diversity.  Long term is a strength.  Short term is a challenge.

But: World changing faster than schools.

Schools are improving but we’re worse off than ever because of the increasing skill gap.

Action:  With funding from Gates Foundation, they found the 25 schools which had improved the fastest.

  • Did not say highest performing.
  • Those that were the fastest improving- who moved from the bottom 5% to the top 10%.
  • None did it the same way. But there were certain trends.
    Stage 1- Why- got a sense of purpose
    Stage 2- What- set a goal
    Stage 3- How- Decided how to do it

No one believes they are the problem. Until you feel you are part of the problem, you can’t be part of the solution.

Change is hard.  If you go too fast, you feel like a cat among dogs. (Picture shown)

World is changing


  • Semantic web:  Analyze documents through keywords – Google– old technology
  • Meaning concepts- Wolfram Alpha
    -verbally and visually connecting information

    • Implications:
      Term papers

Goal for growing up: using resources and working with others.
Why don’t we let kids use smart phones: look up answers and text each other?  We call it cheating.

Technology is changing:

  • Projection keyboard and projector. No more keyboards or monitors.
  • Technology going into watches and jewelry. In 2-3 years, computers going into clothes and buttons. Solution? Naked tests!
    Coming soon – medical molecular devices.  Examine colon polyps, kill cancer cells- Personalized medicineIs this chemistry?  Biology?  Physics?  Where do we teach this content-connnected information?

Financial word is changing

  • US is borrowing 41 cents for every dollar we spend.
  • Everyone agrees until we have to make changes.  Stalemate in politics

Same with schools: Everyone agrees we need to fix schools until a change impacts some grownup.


  • Example: Shenzhen. Fishing village 1980. Olympics 2016
  • The US has 9 cities with a million people. Europe 36.
  • China has 160 cities with over a million people.
  • Even more: there are 168 million preschoolers in India- they would be the 4th largest country in the world.
  • Both India and China have moved to a 270 day school year.
  • China graduates 86% of its 18-year olds. The ones that live, true- but still 86% is an impressive number.
  • US- 5% of population 24% of consumption. We are a nation of shoppers. They own us.

Gridlock in political arena. We seem unable to be able to make the changes that are needed.
We have the same problem in schools. We can’t figure out how to heal ourselves. If we don’t, we will lose public education.  

WHY do we need to change?
Until you create a real level of anxiety, people won’t accept any form of solution.

Research is crystal clear- teaching reading in the content areas improves scores in the content.  Teaching how to read math problems raises scores in math.
Study- 75 high schools lexile levels. The higher the score, the higher the reading level. Average levels: (My visual guess from chart detailing the highest point of the middle 50%- #s are approximate)

  • Junior/senior level English Language Arts classrooms- 900.
  • College literature courses – 1100.
  • High school content (math)- 1150.
  • Career and Tech Ed has the highest reading requirement. Have to be able to read- and write!- those manuals.
  • College textbooks- 1350.
  • Military- 1250.
  • Personal use (taxes, forms, etc.)- 1350.
  • Entry level workers- 1360.
  • SAT, ACT-  1200.

Academic skills for entry level jobs have surpassed college readiness skills.

We have been looking in the rear view mirror at where we’ve been and planning where to go.   We can’t do this anymore!


State comparisons- Standards and Reading
Massachusetts is the only state looking at job required skills.
Georgia is the lowest state for proficiency on NAEP data.  Used to be Mississippi in 2005, but by 2009, Georgia is the lowest. (My note here: I can’t find this data- GA looks like we’re in the middle of the pack according to the NAEP site)
State has to dump standards for depth. Everyone will like it until you mess up someone’s laminated lesson plan.

Have to raise standards- fewer and different.
Kids have to function to application to real world unpredictable situations. Test at knowledge within a content area.

Takes time to get there.

Rigor and Relevance Framework
Rigor= Blooms taxonomy.  From Awareness to Evaluation

  • A= low level knowledge, low level application. High school
  • B= low level knowledge , high application- career tech
  • C= High knowledge, college prep
  • D= real world, good paying jobs. In an effort to get to D we drove them to A.

*Relevance makes rigor possible*
Ex. Teaching degrees of a circle through football. School in NC involved the coach in teaching degrees of a circle to 2nd graders. Playing football with degrees.
Ex. Adopted child with EBD. We are taking kids out of what they like and doubling them up in what they’re already failing at for the convenience of adults.  We MUST integrate music and art. Must teach rigor and relevance through integration. It is critical to teaching to a child to find out what the kid likes.

Where are the jobs?

  • Routine jobs are giving ways to non-routine jobs.
  • Routine jobs
    • Rules driven
    • Require Problem solving
    • Use Algorithms- If… then.
    • Can be digitized and outsourced.
    • Non routine jobs. Ex. Building principals- like pulling a slot machine.
      • Results driven.
      • Require Decision making.
      • Require More innovation creativity.
      • Cannot be outsourced.

Quad A are preparing them for routine jobs.
Quad D prepares kids for non-routine jobs.

We have the highest unemployment in history but the highest number of unfilled jobs.

We have to teach decision making, not knowledge and problemsolving.


  • Develop a Culture of high expectations
  • Relevance of instruction
  • Integration of multiple disciplines.
    • Ex: One school got rid of their chairs of departments- gatekeepers of the past.
    • Strong relationships.
      • Ex. Looping classrooms.
      • System wide focus on literacy
      • Focused and sustained PD

Recommendations- Next navigator. Next steps. Road map… his programs

  • Use the data from National Essential Skills Study  Focus only on those skills that are relevant.
    • Ex. Skill: Give clear directions. Rank #2 for business. Rank #28 for ELA teachers.
    • We must use the data to drop 40% of state standards.  Focus on Common Core

End of session- lots of quiet chatter, lots of concerned looks.  General look of being stunned…

Oh wow… I have my work as a teacher educator cut out for me…


  1. Very interesting and scary. Perhaps we should get off of the dead horse!

    Comment by Jan La Boone — February 2, 2012 @ 8:32 pm | Reply

  2. Dear Dr. Hughes,
    Thank you for including this summary on your blog. I also attended the seminar…very interesting and even jolting! FYI-the ppt material, white papers and notes can be found by googling “Dr. Daggett Georgia” and finding the winter GAEL conference link (Dec. 2011).
    Laura Kipp

    Comment by Laura Kipp — February 6, 2012 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  3. I really enjoyed his presentation … but I did kinda wonder about the odds of some of his stories being true (about his family) … and then I saw this page http://bigthink.com/ideas/30188 … and I haven’t seen any rebuttal. Reminds me of “memoirs” of recent fame that turned out to be fabricated…

    Comment by xiousgeonz — April 2, 2012 @ 7:01 pm | Reply

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