Superintendent's Report 020114
Morris Area Schools
For those who may not know, the Vision of the Morris Area School District is to become the finest school district in West Central Minnesota. During the 2013 Legislative session, the “World’s Best Workforce” legislation was enacted that students, parents, staff, and community members will be hearing much more about in the future.
Fortunately, several requirements of this all-encompassing legislation are already in place in the Morris Area School District. The new law will serve as guiding principles for our district to strive to create excellence in education. It can be difficult to measure how well we are progressing toward this vision, yet I believe there are several things that we can continue to do, emphasize, and work on to take steps forward toward that vision and creating excellence in education.
Excellence in education begins at birth. Developmental outcomes emerge from infant characteristics, caregiver-infant relationships, and the environmental contexts within which infant-parent relationships take place. Parents are interacting participants in the developmental process. Research has shown, and continues to show, that there is a critical relationship between early childhood experiences, school success and positive life-long outcomes (Minnesota School Readiness Study, fall 2012, Minnesota Department of Education).
According to Dr. Anne Meade, “There is a significant amount of evidence that enriched environments such as are found in high-quality early childhood settings facilitate adaptive changes and positive development in children’s brains.” Fortunately, the 2012 School Readiness Assessment shows that more Minnesota children are ready for kindergarten than ever before. But a lot of work still needs to be done to assure that all programs are high quality and accessible to all children.
Excellence in education develops through the K-12 educational experience at home and at school. Minnesota has standards that define expectations for the academic achievement of students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. According to the Minnesota Parent Resource Center, “Academic standards are learning goals that define what students are required to know in certain subject areas.” The standards and the benchmarks that demonstrate the achievement of standards are important because: 1) they define the knowledge and skills students need to master by the end of a grade level, 2) they help define the course credit requirements for graduation, and 3) they serve as a guide for local curricula.
Student mastery of standards and benchmarks is measured through state and local assessments. High stakes or standardized tests measure some components of students’ academic development. Standardized tests do not measure all components of meaningful education (Valarie Strauss referencing Gerald Bracey research in The Myths of Standardized Testing, Washington Post, April 15, 2011).
Excellence in education results in the World’s Best (and smartest) Workforce. Experts have projected that by 2018, seventy percent of Minnesota’s jobs will require education beyond high school. Currently, the fastest-growing portion of our under-age-18 population is kids of color who have the lowest high-school graduation rates. In fact, Minnesota has been ranked second nationally in its need for a well-educated workforce by 2018.
It is essential for our individual, and collective, futures that Minnesota is prepared to meet the challenges of an aging population and address the significant learning gaps that exist. “As well-educated boomers retire, the young people rising to replace them include large numbers of recent immigrants and minorities—who currently drop out of high school at alarming rates (Doug Grow, Minnesota’s ‘Think Big’ effort aims to produce ‘World’s Best/Smartest Workforce’ MINNPOST).
The 2013 Omnibus E-12 Education Bill includes the following goals and associated requirements to maintain and advance Minnesota as the place to find the world’s best/smartest workforce:
1) Have all students meet school readiness goals.
2) Have all third grade students achieve grade-level literacy (reading well by the end of third grade).
3) Close the academic achievement gap among all racial and ethnic groups of students and between students living in poverty and their more privileged peers.
4) Have all students graduate from high school.
5) Have all students attain career and college preparedness.
According to former state economist Tom Stinson, there will be great rewards for those places that have a highly educated workforce: “Unlike any time in history, labor and talent will be the scarce resource that all will be seeking.”
I look forward to ISD 2769 being one of the “places” that strives to create excellence in education and has a highly educated workforce. This will only benefit our stakeholders, communities, and region.
If you have questions about something or wish for additional information, feel free to contact me. I can be reached at (320) 589-4840 or smonson@morris. k12.mn.us.