As we greet the new year and look forward to the continued success of the Kyrene School District, we are aggressively rethinking how learning experiences can better reflect the needs of the 21st century.
The educational system in the United States still reflects what is often termed an “industrial model” that groups students in grade levels by chronological age, sets standards for each of those levels, and assesses students based upon how well they meet those standards. We have been “tweaking” this system for the past 30 years and many improvements have been made. However, it is now time to replace this system with one that is responsive to the needs of a diverse student population from varied backgrounds with many amazing talents and abilities. We need to move away from standardization (all students of the same age expected to achieve the same standards) to creative approaches with reasonable parameters (activation of interests and talents of students with identified learning outcomes).
Later this month, the governing board will consider adopting a vision that calls for “personalized learning experiences” for all students. This vision can be met in many different ways and can include:
• Flexible grouping to meet learning needs.
• Use of technology to provide individual intervention and/or enrichment.
• Non-traditional staffing models where students are no longer assigned to grade levels, but to a more flexible system called “bands of learning.”
• Learning experiences designed around problem solving or creating a product/performance where learned content is integrated for this purpose.
• Additional Choice Programs for students and their families who desire a specific type of program or approach to learning (including the already announced expansion of the Dual Language Program to Kyrene de los Lagos Elementary School, where students learn in both English and Spanish).
A vision embodies what we want to become, and the Kyrene School District will continue to create the best system of education we can for all students. As we work on implementation of this new vision, we look forward to working with staff, parents, community members and business owners. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me at (480) 541-1000 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Dr. David K. Schauer is superintendent of the Kyrene School District. Reach him at email@example.com or (480) 541-1100.