As my understanding has matured, and I have reflected on this work over the years, one aspect that was not attended to enough at the beginning of these journeys was the articulation of clear success criteria. That is, as we progressed toward the realization of our vision, what would the indicators of that success be? What would the students be doing, saying, or producing which would provide evidence of a positive impact?
One person that has had a profound impact on this enlightenment would have to be Professor John Hattie. Most in education circles at this point have become aware of Hattie’s work and the quest that he began to answer the simple question, “What works best?” in promoting student learning. One of the highlights of my career has been being able to get to know John and his work on a deep level. One of the key mantras of Hattie’s work, much more important than the ranking of influences on achievement, has been the ideation that the mindset of focusing on ones’ impact on learning - and - then also the evaluation of the evidence of that impact are essential to having a positive impact on the improvement of learning for students and the adults in a learning organization. To focus this work, there must be clear and objective criteria marking success of the learning. This is where the success criteria really come in to play.
It is not enough to simply have a learning goal at the classroom level, or an organizational goal that the system level. There should be clear and meaningful markers of success that are communicable and measurable. These criteria guide the evidence collected and the interpretation of that evidence against an objective standard that can be communicated across thirty students in a single classroom or a thousand schools across a state.
Don't skimp on the articulation of clear and communicable success criteria when beginning the journey of school improvement. This also provides an excellent place to collaboratively put the hands, ears, and feet on the statement of vision that is to guide the work at all levels of the system. It takes more than a vision!
I would love to know your thoughts?