In a recent article by Jay Mathews, education writer of the Washington Post, Mr. Mathews writes about the K.I.P.P. (Knowledge is Power Program) and the above average outcomes that this program is delivering in 43 selected schools throughout the country.
This program focuses on 5 pillars:
- High Expectations
- Choice & Commitment
- More Time
- Power to Lead
- Focus on Results
What is interesting to note is the last Pillar – Focus on Results. By embracing the desired end results, this program has shown how to overcome the under-educated culture that is rampant within many urban and even suburban schools.
Focus on Results
In the book Fail-Safe Leadership by authors Linda Martin and Dr. David Mutchler specifically addresses the importance of beginning with the desired results and then developing the shareholders through leadership (see next pillar) to achieve those results. Using this approach of internalization to improve performance is a more logical driver of change than trying to use the traditional approach of externalization.
Power to Lead
Additionally, this program embraces solid leadership skills that include both academic and organizational. Many administrators are good instructional leaders, but are not trained nor developed to be equally good leader managers.
During the last 25 years, actual time in the classroom has continued to decline even though information is increasing at phenomenal rates. When I was a school board member in the early 1990’s, elementary teachers spent less than 5 hours daily engaged with their students. The other 2 plus hours centered on recess, lunch time and specials such as library, computers, gym, art or music.
Choice and Commitment
Even though KIPP schools appear to be “chartered or choice schools,” the emphasis by all shareholders on commitment is necessary for the success of any organization.
When public education started changing its focus years ago by dumbing down the curriculum, the standard of high expectations was relegated to the bottom. This action also directly contributed to the under-education of students within all schools. Evidence of this is supported by the dismal progress nationally by students through the Nation’s Report Card. When over the course of 33 years 17 year olds students nationally have not improved their reading scores and those scores are not exceptional, these results reflect low expectations. For example, one of the reading questions for 12th grade students asked the following:
The purpose of a tax table is to help you determine: a) gross income b)the amount of tax you owe c)your net earnings d) your allowable deductions.
Less than 2/3 of the students answered this correctly. Given the clue words are tax and table and only one response has the word tax, the inability of 1/3 of the students to answer this correctly clearly demonstrates why there has been no reading progress. And more importantly suggests that we are not developing the knowledge workers required for the 21st century.
Just imagine, if all schools infused these 5 principles identified by KIPP or similar principles within their culture,what types of outcomes could be realized? From a performance perspective, each and every American public school could easily be a Baldrige winner in 5 years. And, our country would once again retain its number one leadership role in education.
P.S. If your immediate response to the statement regarding attaining Baldrige in 5 years was No, Not possible, or She doesn’t know what she is talking about, then you are a victim of low expectations and looking at excuses to justify unacceptable performance.