. . . is the question @amyjwatkins asked me on Twitter this morning, in response to the news that DCPS plans to close 20 neighborhood schools in an effort to concentrate its student populations and provide them with fuller services.
Great question, Amy. To answer it, imagine if DCPS adopted the following as its theory of change (TOC)?
IF we have cultures of transformational learning where we
- create competency-based learning pathways and learning opportunities,
- know and embrace each student’s strengths, challenges, passions, and abilities,
- intentionally design for student agency, coaching and assessing habits of mind and being,
- cultivate communities of collaboration and partnership both inside and outside of school, and
- embed these practices in laboratories of democratic practice,
THEN all students will flourish and achieve to high levels.
Think that TOC (which is the brainchild of the remarkable QED Foundation), would give the district the focus it needs to reimagine urban public education in ways that are both specific and visionary? I do. And the good news is that DCPS has already broached the idea of moving to a competency-based system.
In sum, it’s possible — and essential — to fix DCPS. And it will require a comprehensive theory of change that recognizes the limitations of the current test-obsessed climate, and reimagines the structure and purpose of school.
What do you think?