Preparing Students To Be A Success

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"As outsourcing of work to other countries continues, the U.S. job market will shrink. Education will be the determining factor as to whether a person is successful in the global economy or not. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that a worker over 18 years of age and holding a bachelor's degree will earn nearly twice as much as worker over 18 with a high school diploma." -- U.S Census News, March 28.

How can we prepare students to be successful in an increasingly competitive global economy? How can we expect students to excel without well-defined rigorous standards?

How can we expect them to contribute without relevant and applicable learning?

How can students meet these standards unless an entire school engages them in meaningful instruction and caring relationships?

Willard Daggett, president of the International Center for Leadership in Education has earned recognition for his proven ability to move schools and educational systems toward high levels of performance. His model clearly defines rigor, relevance and relationships as key ingredients to increasing the effectiveness of schools and raising student achievement.

Let's delve into the meaning of "rigor, relevance and relationships" and the application to the students and staff of Payson High School.

In short, rigor can be explained as a clearly defined set of learning standards that students must reach.

These standards must be in core areas of English/language arts, math, science and other areas (such as technology) identified by the school and community. Students must demonstrate their competency relative to these standards to move on.

Relevance is defined as students' ability to move from simple acquisition of knowledge to applying that knowledge routinely to solve problems and finally, to applying knowledge from a variety of disciplines to solve complex problems.

An example might be, students move from learning math facts to manipulating mathematical formulas to applying statistical formulas to determine a trend; then determining a solution to enhance or curtail the trend (depending on the problem) and acting on the result.

While rigor and relevance are foundational, relationships defined as "students feeling connected to the school" are equally important.

Do teachers "engage" students or are they simply purveyors of knowledge?

Do students feel cared for? Are students respected by their peers? By staff? Do they feel safe?

Do they believe their concerns are heard and thoughtfully considered? Do they feel like anyone cares if they are failing or don't show up?

Do they feel recognized for their accomplishments? It turns out that the answers to these questions are fundamental to student and school success.

In future columns I will expand on specifics of rigor, relevance and relationships. Until then, checkout www.leadered.com. On the left side menu, click on "About Mr. Daggett" then "Powerpoint presentations". You'll find some great material and startling statistics.

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