Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 42

If you're going to make a , make sure you make it count.

Change is hard, but it is even harder to make a change that isn't really much of a change at all.  Particularly when your stakeholders are left wondering which of their concerns, if any, were addressed in the change you made.

Effective change requires three things: First, an understanding and ability to explain clearly how the change will impact stakeholders.  Second, a scope of change that incorporates all or as many of your stakeholders as possible.  Finally, an endpoint that showcases a result that sets a new landscape than existed before the change.  Let's call this the USE Framework for Change.

To show the difficulties of ineffective change, I'm going to highlight a few items from the most recent NYSED Board of Regents meeting, all of which fall under the heading of Common Core implementation changes.  (Note: Our SED is touting this as a news-worthy item; in my eyes, this is part of the problem. . . touting minor changes as major ones simply builds greater frustration).

First, the Twittersphere is on fire with headings (taken directly from the SED page, unfortunately) touting implementation delays to the Common Core.  Yet, the only real delay New York will experience is a delay in meeting college and career ready graduation requirements; no delay in testing, standards use, curriculum design/implementation, etc.  This feels more like a can kick down the road than a true change (in my humble opinion, anyway).  How does this play out in the explaining, scope, and endpoint aspects of effective change?

Understanding: Due to the lack of clarity from SED on this point, I've been trying to assist educators since yesterday in understanding what the delay really is.  Interpretations have ranged from no delay of anything to the whole train coming off the tracks.  This lack of consensus is bad for any change.

Scope:  While this change will effect all educators, it doesn't really impact anything different at this point.  The status quo will continue, making this a moot point.

Endpoint: This change would go into effect immediately but wouldn't be felt by anyone.  Hopefully, more time teaching with the Common Core standards will make a difference, but who is to know?  Regardless, 2022 will be a shock for all, as a ten point or fifteen point shift in graduation requirements will be difficult no matter when it happens.

Here's one more example: SED is going to be disapproving APPR plans with traditional standardized testing built in for grades K-2.  However, NY does not utilize traditional standardized testing in grades K-2, and I would be surprised (though I have been wrong before) if any (or more than a few) actually assess more than the state requires.  Let's look at the USE Framework here.

Understanding: This makes sense, but appears silly.  If the state doesn't administer standardized tests K-2, why bother with this?  Shouldn't APPR plans including this have been disapproved in the past?  This one seems like a waste of digital ink.

Scope: Large enough.  Primary teachers, students, and parents are all impacted by this.  But again, unless a district currently does this, the scope is dramatically reduced.

Endpoint: For most, the end result is the same as the starting point: no standardized tests K-2.

By the way, there are a few great moves.  The state is continuing to look for ways to make AIS productive for districts and students, and flexibility to districts around local assessments is always a great thing.  In addition, educators rated ineffective by districts may have some defense for termination if their termination is tied to Common Core assessment results (FYI, less than three percent of educators in NY are rated ineffective).  But, for all the good, changes that are viewed as being too little, or too late, end up resulting in increased frustration, not less, which is exactly what I believe SED did with this memo.  A shame, really.

What do you think?  I can go on more about the changes in the memo, which can be found here.  Reach out to me and let's chat.

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