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Page history last edited by Chris Jones 11 years, 10 months ago


What's #EcoSys?  It's a community working on K12 challenges.  See our framing or visit our frontpage


To focus our conversations, let's summarize the key challenges of education. This will allow us to map our target outcomes, bright spots, and ideas to specific gaps.  Draft text in red. Ideas for discussion in blue. Links to EcoSys wiki resources provided, where available.


K12 Education Challenge

Emerging ECOSYS consensus  

DESIRED ECOSYSTEM OUTCOMES. Focus on key behaviors and motivators across the ecosystem

K12 ECOSYS FOCUS AREA per our overall Topic Agenda ("practitioner focus", what can be done within the system?) K12 ECOSYS BRIGHT SPOTS Positive Deviance ("what's working, what can be replicated?")

K12 ECOSYS Resources

Books, Thought Leaders & key links 

K12 ECOSYS Future Conversations 

 e.g., Async Topics 


C1 Dropout rate excessive, and in many regions, increasing, largely unaffected by education reform efforts to date.

HS OUTCOMES from 7/24 (work in progress)




O1a. Kids stay in school through H.S. because they are engaged in their learning, and want to maximize their ability to learn (rev. 7/24).




O1b. Make H.S. an authentic, highly relevant learning environment, actively linked with stakeholders from the local community (added 7/24).


O1c. Remove parent & student mistrust of system.




O1d. Need to listen to what dropouts say!


O1e. Move discussion to elementary & MS level (HS too late)

Added 7/31 (cj):

Input for tonight's chat around O2c "Mistrust of System"

Q1- who do kids trust? how does this play into the gang dynamic? (see d. below)

Q2- who do parents trust? who do they NEED to trust?

Q3- who do teachers & admins trust? each other? how does this dynamic impact the classroom?

Q4-what role can language play in creating common ground?

Q5-where does empathy come in? do you understand me? do you care?

(see f. below) 


Added 7/17 (cj): Must combat these issues (a.) curriculum seems pointless, not relevant (b.) sheer boredom

(c.) getting pushed out (d.) gangs there to welcome kids being pushed out (e.) perception school leads to more money, more stuff (f.) culture of testing outweighs ethic of caring (g.) economy creates pressure to make money for family, edu lower priority.

SLA Capstone Graduation Project.

Dropout by the Numbers: A Report 


Dropout risk factors & exemplary programs


Tatoos on the Heart: Power of Boundless Compassion (G.Boyle) re: gang factor


Connecting Health w/ Dropout (via Chris Emdin)

T1. Want to discuss assumption that college = opportunity in life; is this still always the case? What is the correct framing for this in the 21st Century? 

C2 Lower-income urban and rural schools suffer with systems that are unable to scale or to adequately meet needs of students; they carry disproportionate share of problems, lacking sufficient funding to cover basics. (a.) are constructs from rich suburban schools being applied that don't make sense? (b.) poverty - disconnect: issue for the States, but schools answering to Federal mandates (c.) lack of money & resources and concern over inequitable infrastructure; (d.) fear and (e.) lack of voice 

(most frequently discussed topics in bold)

O2a All school systems are self sufficient and fully integrated within their local community

- role of leaders

- need for shared vision

- need to get jurisdictions in alignment

- lots of work "it takes a village"

- different in different settings, situations (cities, rural counties, hardship levels, etc.)

- key role of voters to support

- voters = parents


O2b PBL's focusing on community solutions

 (assumes teachers feel safe leaving the building)


- library as 'shared learning commons'

- public health awareness

- local environment stabilization & recovery

- school paper (reporting community news)


O2c "Relaxed Alertness" and a safe place to learn, with a developed resilience


O2d Students need to know they matter to us.



Added 9/11 (cj):

Input for tonight's chat launching C2

Q1- Do urban/rural demand diff ecosys dynamic

Q2 - Constrained financial resources





C.Emdin Back to School for Urban Parents (HuffPo)  


S.Grainger on Resiliency (prezi)


Knowledge Works "Future of Ed" 2020 Forecast: Platforms of Resilience


Majora Carter on Greening the Ghetto (TED)


Miss Shuganah on Communities & Schools


C.Payne "So Much Reform, So Little Change" (book)



(C2.1) "What is resilience in K12 context & how do we achieve it?" (C2.2) "Is EduKare a concept that can be implemented?"

C3 Focus on test scores to determine system or teacher success dilutes focus on student needs and shifts classroom priorities to test preparation, most notably memorization of facts ("what's on the test?"). (a.) add Critical Thinking language? (b.) downside of ranking students? (c.) downside of qualifying teachers? (d.) possible to seek a 'perfect' test? (e.) is it really an issue of time allocation and priority, aka testing overkill (standard tests over more valuable 'formative assessments'); (f.) time box to limit test prep time?

O3 Teacher focus shifts from assessments to student learning, with full support from school systems and parents.


ALTERNATIVES (moved from C1)


O2b. H.S. Uses STEM, PBL & Authentic Learning Environments as a "Safety Net" to ensure minimum levels of Literacy achieved 

(added 7/24, moved here 7/31).



Q1. What kinds of tests are there? 

discussed 9/25


MANY different types of tests & assessments (need to define)


Concern about reality vs. rhetoric


MANY different, often conflicting semantics,

expectations, accountability


Differences in ultimate goals & objectives (literacy, STEM, R1 Purpose of Ed: social/citizen debates)


Q2. What are known problems w/ current testing situation?

(resuming 10/2)

- tests sort students

- they don't id areas for improvement

- more like a sentence than a diagnosis

- teacher observation found to correlate well w/test results

- often used to eval the teacher


Q3. What do we ignore when focusing on testing & test results?

- individual student needs

- individual learning & testing styles

- creativity (stifled)

- 21st century needs/skills (neglected)


Q4. (10/9) Are there alternatives to testing that are easy for stakeholders to understand?

- exams at start of year, to set teaching priorities

- have students create a quick info graphic to see if they understand

- Narrative based assessment (2-3 para's per student; kids love them)

- PBL (criteria for evaluation supplied by teacher)

- authentic approach

- can't suspend trad grades or would lose college admissions competitiveness

Q5. What are ways to inform public that testing focus inhibits or fails to account for all student learning?


learning must be more authentic, reading w/ pen in hand, giving opinions, justifying points of view (critical thinking)


how do we measure critical thinking?



FINLAND as Bright Spot: NYBook Review (2008) "Schools We Can Envy" via Brenda Young

C.Lemke on 21stC Assessment


Need link on NCLB Waivers


CybraryMan1 on Standardized Tests


SeanGrainger on Testing

T2 Standards

T7 Assessment 

C4 Funding models often deficient to provide necessary resources. Results in teacher and facility shortages, and higher than desired classroom sizes. (a.) privatization (b.) charters? (c.) teacher salaries included here?  O4 Mainstream state-level public ed funding models provide core, foundational infrastructure required to educate students. T9 Eval of Programs 


C.Christensen (impact of "factory model" & "disruptive innovation") 


US News Ranking of Charters (current)


DATA normalized by pupil both by State (need link) and by country  

(C4.1) "Role of FED funding?" (C4.2) "Role of RTTT?"

(C4.3) "Role or charters?"

C5 Teacher classroom demands have become daunting, as they face increasing challenges to meet expanding PD and skill set demands. O5 Teachers are provided with, embrace and fully leverage professional development (PD) resources pre-service and professional learning network (PLN) resources in-service to ensure maximum effectiveness in the classroom. 

T4 Methodology

T5 Teacher Prep

T8 Teacher Evals



HybridLearning aka VPS (Virtual Public School);




C.Lemke on Technology Innovation  (C5.1) "Viable PLN Strategies that don't seem to waste time"; (C5.2) "PD as PreService Reqmt" (C5.3) "Class size challenges & mitigations"
C6 Cultural forces can work against positive learning environment, creating conflicting messages and priorities to students, and lowering priority of teacher funding from a social priority standpoint.(a.) should we introduce notion of economic/wage incentives, as either a pro or con to learning incentives? (see C1/O1)

O6 A culture of learning is introduced into society that drives higher priority for education in settings outside school. 


O2d. Need to create healthier cultural influences(added 7/24, moved here 7/31).

T1 Parent Engagemt

T10 Activism (incl. Parent Trigger)


3/4 Discussion of Leadership & Collegial Culture in Schools (transcript)

R1 Purpose of Education 

A.Fox Parent Forum 


WhatEdSaid on Creating a Culture of Learning.


Roland Barth article 2006 re: Education Leadership

(C6.1) "How to achieve a learning culture?" (C6.2) "Is it at odds with a capitalistic, wage-centric culture of consumerism?"
C7 Insufficient time for custom, differentiated and/or individualized learning with increasing recognition that students at either end of the learning capability spectrum benefit from greater teacher 1:1 focus & adjustment of pace. O7 Teachers, school systems and parents agree on the value of individualized student learning, and identify viable, scalable means to achieve it.

T3 Open Curriculum

T6 Admin Prep 

Learning Genome

D.Pink (right brained learners);

H.Gardner (learning intelligences)

(C7.1) "Can ILP's play an expanded role?"
C8 21st century skills demand changes in what is being taught and how that content is being delivered, with increased focus on critical thinking - learning "how" to learn, not simply memorizing facts (aligns w/ C3/O3) Empower the disenfranchised learner through projects, current events, pop culture, with focus on deep learning & careful discernment that critical thinking makes possible.


RHS 3yr Science Program


Visual Thinking by Ritchart, Morrison & Church (via @WhatEdSaid @ToughLoveforX)

R4 Critical Thinking 


B.Pearlman on PBL (Project Based Learning)


AbEd on 21st-C Learning Competencies aka 'the circle' (via @MillerG6)

(C8.1) "How do we drive Critical Thinking in K12 Edu?" 


Not wanting to be limited to the framework above, we're open to additional ideas and pathways.  The list below is courtsey Catherine Davidson with input and amplification by our own Sean Grainger and Michael Josefiwicz.  Perhaps we can work these ideas into our Challenges Framework above, and add new rows if we need to?


@catinstack's 10 late-night tweets on ed reform (w some edits) - sg
Updated for EcoSys; with dates introduced - cj


7/14 Path1. End standardized EOG tests; they demotivate learning and good teaching

7/14 Path2. Test in challenging way, use tough game mechanics w real-time feedback and new challenges

7/14 Path3. ABCD grading is 19thC factory standard; need nuance, subtle, real, honest assessment

prior Path4. Make learning real, relevant, tied to communities, real experience, accomplishment, worth


7/21 Path 5. Omit industrial age "two cultures" binary (stem v art, human, soc)

- encourage creativity

- encourage divergent thinking

- allow teachers to be innovative & creative, not "locked in" to curriculum & assessment structures

- students don't think/learn in a discrete fashion, we should we teach that way?

- not that dichotomy in content is problem; rather, how we teach it

7/21 Path 6. Teach kids to think through, with, about, for--and create--new, interactive digital global communication

- tech & textbook a false dichotomy (thinking both need to be used)

- some discussion that textbook may become extinct in current form

- teachers need latitude

- no panaceas

- challenging notion of "innovation" vs. improved efficiency; are we really being all that different with tech?

- witnessing some acceleration; more changed in last 10 years than over many centuries

- teachers can create "relevance"; it's hard work, but it can be done


Path7. Nourish ability, stop diagnosing, labelling, stigmatizing, medicating disability

Path8. Restore arts, music, shop, PE; foster soul stirring learning that lets kids move, make, sing, dream

Path9. Stop making college implicit standard for all ed, back to preschool; many worthy careers don't need higher ed

Path10. Involve parents, guardians, friends, grandparents as teacher's aids; subsidize healthy breakfasts & lunches





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