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Sunday, September 30, 2012

TASB/TASA Convention News

I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to make two presentations at the TASB/TASA Convention in Austin, Texas this weekend.

For those that attended the Sunday morning session, here's the number you need:  #3935

Both sessions provided me the opportunity to share how we think, how we do business, and for what we aspire for our students at Guthrie CSD, from the perspective of optimal learning (and especially in relation to online learning).

Thanks to all those folks who attended, asked good questions, and provided positive feedback.

Providing World Class education to students is within the reach of any school district that wants to pursue that goal these days.  Good luck to those that make that choice.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Guthrie CSD Selected as Participant in the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium

By Nelson Coulter

Guthrie CSD submitted application to be a participant school in the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium in June, 2012.  The Texas Legislature in the summer of 2011 authorized a pilot project assembling 20 exceptional Texas school districts, each of which having an established record of excellence and progressive thinking, to form a consortium.  The charge of the consortium is to collaborate in best practice research and experimentation, which will influence public school policy in the years to come.

On September 19, 2012, Texas Commissioner of Education Michael L. Williams invited Guthrie and 22 other school districts to participate in the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium.  The Consortium will help develop innovative, next-generation learning standards, assessments and accountability systems.   “The school districts selected to participate in the consortium are already known for their innovative work and are looked to by many as educational leaders. This exciting project will help the Governor, legislative leaders and the Texas Education Agency craft a sound, well-thought out plan to move all Texas schools to the next performance level,” Williams said.

The Consortium will make recommendations to state educational policy makers in four key areas:
1. Digital learning--Engagement of students in digital learning, including the use of electronic textbooks and instructional materials and courses offered through the Texas Virtual School Network;
2. Learning standards--Standards that a student must master to be successful in a competitive postsecondary environment;
3. Multiple assessments--Various methods of measuring student progress to keep students, parents and schools informed, and the actions consortium participants are taking to improve learning; and
4. Local control--Ways in which reliance on local input and decision-making enable communities and parents to be involved in the important decisions regarding the education of their children.

Districts from all over the state submitted applications and went through a rigorous selection process to become part of the Consortium.

Following is an alphabetic list of those selected to participate in the Consortium.
Anderson-Shiro Consolidated ISD     Clear Creek ISD  
College Station ISD                         Coppell ISD    
Duncanville ISD                               Eanes ISD    
Glen Rose ISD                                Guthrie CSD    
Harlingen CISD                               Highland Park ISD (Dallas County) 
Irving ISD                                       Klein ISD    
Lake Travis ISD                              Lancaster ISD    
Lewisville ISD                                McAllen ISD     
McKinney ISD                                Northwest ISD     
Prosper ISD                                   Richardson ISD
Roscoe ISD                                   Round Rock ISD    
White Oak ISD

Guthrie CSD is by far the smallest invitee district.

Selection as a participant in the Consortium will provide Guthrie’s staff and students with a learning opportunity that is extremely rare.  Moreover, it will provide a unique opportunity for them to serve other districts and students from all over the state of Texas. 

The Guthrie CSD Board of Trustees, staff, and students have made conscious and deliberate decisions about choosing MORE for themselves educationally, and for their futures.  The pursuit of excellence usually entails pushing boundaries and moving outside one’s comfort zones. Guthrie CSD’s commitment to excellence is now being recognized (and affirmed) by the broader educational community of Texas.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guthrie CSD’s Graduate Profile (Part 2): Effective Communicators

By Nelson Coulter

The BUSINESS of school is LEARNING!  At Guthrie CSD we have chosen a pathway of MORE for the learning of our students; more than the minimum requirements, more than the state’s curriculum, more than the tested standards.  Another of the five dimensions of the Guthrie Graduate Profile, which has emerged over the last several months as a commonly held aspiration for our students, is that we intend for our graduates to be:

Effective Communicators
They are/can/have:
       Confident and self-secure
       Communicate in an articulate, effective, and efficient manner
       Critical listeners
       Communicate by use of advancing technologies

In his book titled A Whole New Mind Daniel Pink makes a rather compelling case that the folks who have the best chance of achieving their life goals in the 21st century are those that can effectively engage, collaborate, and communicate with other individuals and groups.  The fundamental vehicle for successful interpersonal engagement is effective communication skills.

Faculty members at Guthrie CSD have determined to embed a purposeful curriculum of communication skills enhancement into our day-to-day business in order to help our students leverage the vast and rich opportunities that exist in our “connected” world.  We are convinced that our students must become skillful in expressing their own thinking through multiple media and skillful in listening to (and actually “hearing”) the messages of others.  In the words of the late Stephen Covey in his book titled The 8th Habit, we want our students to be successful in “finding their own voice and helping others find theirs.”  Through these deliberate instructional processes educators at Guthrie believe our students will develop more confidence and be more self-secure in the way they present (and think of) themselves.  When you think about it, what activity is any more cognitively challenging than carefully formulating and expressing one’s own thoughts, positions, opinions, and knowledge in a way that is crystal clear to others?

Our full intention at Guthrie CSD is to graduate students fully armed and prepared to compete in the world marketplace of work and school and life in a way that will make them the “crème of the crop” in any setting in which they choose to live and compete.