The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

4 things I learned about today

I’ve begun reading “Surpassing Shanghai” in preparation for our upcoming chat/collaboration between #edfocus and the Principal Center. What I like already about this book is the presentation of new ideas that I find myself wanting to know more about. The introduction, written by Marc S. Tucker (who is also the author of the blog “Top Performers“), pushed me to look up a few concepts that I didn’t know much, if anything about, including:

1. The National Center on Education and the Economy

This non-profit was established in 1988 and conducts research about education systems around the world. They take their research to articulate ways to design better educational systems based on what is working around the globe. They are funded by some of the bigger names in non-profits, including Bill and Melinda Gates, the Carnegie Corporation, the Walton Family, Ford Motor Company, and Apple Computers, among others. Their current work includes executive preparation for school leaders, international benchmarking for schools, and “Excellence for All” a high school curriculum that has been implemented in 4 states and has a global focus. In addition to collaborating on their book “Surpassing Shanghai” they also have several webinars, publications and information available about international education.

2. PISA Testing

I’ve heard of it, but didn’t know very much. Rather than writing about what I learned, I’ll share the YouTube video that taught me quite a bit thinking it will do the same for you.

3. Strong Performers and Successful Reformers: Lessons from PISA for the United States

This document analyzes PISA scores as well as strategies implemented in countries that have high achievement or are progressing quickly on the PISA assessments. The purpose of this report is to make recommendations for education policy. I downloaded the report as a PDF file and jumped to the “Lessons for the United States” section at the end. Among the recommendations the report made were:

– Developing a commitment to education and a belief that all students can achieve at high levels.

– Establishing standards for the entire education system that define the expected outcomes for students.

– Building capacity in classrooms by attracting, preparing, and retaining high quality teachers and school leaders, and providing opportunities for teachers to use meet their highest potential.

– Engaging stakeholders by building accountability, investing resources where they are needed, and having local and centralized responsibility for education.

– Alignment of the entire system to promote continuous improvement.

As I read the recommendations, I saw a lot of these ideas in some of the ideas championed by Secretary Duncan and President Obama in the “Race to the Top” initiative and their support for Common Core standards and national assessments. I’m interested to see if these ideas are found in Surpassing Shanghai.

4. Industrial Benchmarking

Not knowing much about this international comparison, I was interested to find out that it compares data from large processes such as production efficiency or energy consumption to evaluate decisions or to shape policy. Countries take the results of “benchmarking” to develop goals or “benchmarks.”

If the introduction of the book is anything like what I’ll find in Part I, I am really looking forward to continuing to read and grow. Looking forward to gaining a lot of new knowledge and reflecting on my own perspectives.


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One thought on “4 things I learned about today

  1. I am just about finished with Chapter one and I found these two quotes very interesting.

    “The dictates of the examinations have left students with little time and room for learning on their own.”

    “…still not fully prepared for lives and work in the future.”

    Sound familiar?

    This comes from a Shanghai educator, the top educational system according to PISA results. Standardized testing at its best. It’s not all rosy in their educational system either. One could ask, is this good data to make decisions with? Looking forward to rest of the book and our discussion.

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