World-class education New outcomes for a new day

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Kim McMonagle and Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins

Our educational system, created in the image of industrialism, has been grounded in the principles of memorization, repetition and standardized assessment for more than 100 years.

In today’s rapidly changing world, where technical information is predicted to double every 72 hours, and where students are expected to compete, think and create on a global scale, we find that our instructional model must be transformed.

Douglas County has excellent schools — some of the best in the state, if not the country. We provide a great education. Over the past eight months, we have developed three district priorities — Choice, World-Class Education, and System Performance. These priorities stay true to our commitments, align our work and facilitate the transition from providing an excellent 20th century education to a world-class 21st century education — one that provides sustainable, personalized learning for all students in Douglas County.

A world-class education means that our students will be able to compete on the “world stage” for the highest paying jobs — opportunities that require a high level of creativity and innovation. We have intentionally taught communication skills, problem solving skills, and critical thinking skills.

Historically, we have not focused on teaching or assessing creativity, innovation, resiliency, systems thinking, and collaboration — all vital 21st century skills.

Providing a World-Class Education means that we are committed to integrating these vital 21st century skills into our teaching, learning and assessments.

As a result, our students will graduate with a deep understanding of self, world, career, and their own defined pathway to success.

A World-Class Education also requires a school district to produce sustainable learning — this is learning that sticks. The most important information and skills must be taught deeply, across all content areas, and assessed authentically. As part of our World-Class Education strategy, the Douglas County School District will focus our instruction on learning activities that require students to analyze, synthesize, apply, evaluate and create.

We will empower those teachers who have already begun shifting their instruction and assessment to account for the World-Class Education model. We will put our resources behind “early adopters” who are the first to create success in their own classrooms, and ultimately, will collaborate with their peers to bring success to the district.

Finally, in Douglas County School District, a World-Class Education is for all students. To that end, additional instructional support is personalized to provide our students with access to our curriculum. Every child in Douglas County learns differently. We believe in offering multiple opportunities for learning through active partnerships with families and community-based agencies.

We recognize that a World-Class Education provides all students the maximum opportunity for success. Our commitment means that we will provide services in social-emotional well-being, health, literacy and numeracy interventions, programming for gifted students, English language learners, and students with special needs.

We have excellent schools in Douglas County. As we move toward World-Class Education, we are committed to beginning a transition toward preparing every student for his/her future. The “one size fits all” industrial model of education will not prepare our students for their futures. Our commitment to parents, students, employees, and our community promises that we will equip Douglas County children with the vital skills to enable them to become tomorrow’s leaders in the 21st century.

Kim McMonagle is executive director of curriculum, instruction and choice programming; and Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins is executive director of learning support services for the Douglas County School District.