Jul 23, 2012

ARTICLE: Ontario's Success

Response: Factors Behind The Success Of Ontario's Schools -- Part Two

"Michael Fullan is professor emeritus at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, and is currently special advisor to the premier and minister of education in Ontario."

In addressing improvements to education, Professor Fullan wrote, "Unfortunately some countries in a hurry to address the issues get the solutions wrong. I call these mistake 'wrong drivers for whole system reform'. Drivers are policy and strategy instruments designed to 'cause' improvement in the system. A wrong driver is one that does not work; a right driver is one that does produce improvement. In our work on system reform we have been sorting out what drivers work and which ones do not. This is our conclusion: excessive accountability, individualistic strategies designed to increase human capital, technology and ad hoc policy solutions waste valuable time and resources and often make matters worse. By contract emphasizing capacity building, collaboration and teamwork, instruction or pedagogy, and systemic coherent policies do work. The key is which policies end up 'motivating' teachers and others to put in the effort to get better results, while at the same time serving the public accountability requirement that practices and results are getting better, and that interventions are occurring that actually address the problems in a productive way...

"But our approach and results as well as progress in other countries using similar policies raises the direct question of how can the US re-configure its approach at the state and Federal levels in order to increase performance on a wide scale. The good news is that this can be done, and that in can be done in a relatively short time --5 or 6 years to make substantial progress. Time is of the essence in getting started down this more productive path...

"Ontario public schools follow a model embraced by top-performing hospitals, businesses, and organizations worldwide. Specifically, they do five things in concert -- focus, build relationships, persist, develop capacity, and spread quality implementation...

"By focusing on teacher development, Ontario was also able to raise teacher accountability. Decades of experience have taught Canadian educators that you can't get greater accountability through direct measures of rewards and punishments. Instead, what Ontario did was to establish transparency of results and practice (anyone can find out what any school's results are, and what they are doing to get those results) while combining this with what we call non-judgmentalism..."

Much more was written. And there are responses from some Canadian teachers.

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