Just came across an exciting post in Leadertalk, about a school that is working towards developing student learning expectations (SLE’s) – with the intention of encouraging school reform. They have developed 5 key areas:

STUDENT LEARNING EXPECTATIONS What a student should know and be able to do when they graduate from 8th grade. (based on NETS)

1. St Elisabeth students will apply creativity and innovation to the development of new perspectives as they interpret and remix previous knowledge and pursue new learning.

2. St. Elisabeth students will be effective communicators who practice 21st century literacy skills, model digital citizenship, and global collaboration.

3. St Elisabeth Students will demonstrate effective research and information fluency by developing original conclusions, re-evaluating and interpreting their assumptions, and assessing the reliability and validity of their sources.

            4. St. Elisabeth students will apply high level critical thinking skills, effective problem-solving strategies, and content specific   methods of data interpretation when exploring curriculum content.

            5. St. Elisabeth students will demonstrate behavior reflective of our faith and the Six Pillars of Character in all aspects of their school work and in interactions with their peers, teachers and the global community.

        As I read through them, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to our CELs, which I think should be the driving force of our curriculum. This school seems to be on the right path to creating environments for students to engage in authentic learning experiences, as the author, Barbara Barreda also mentioned how they have been discussing topics like 21st century literacy, moving beyond textbooks, classroom as studio, etc. Some really innovative thinking going on…and I’m anxious to see how things go on for them.

        Somewhat disconcerting, though, was the very first comment she received to her post. This individual, who chose to remain anonymous, immediately found fault with their five key areas because of the lack of reference to what kids actually have to “know”. I’ve inserted it here because I think it is indicative of the mindset of many…

        “What a student should know and be able to do….” Funny, but I don’t see any evidence of actual required knowledge — in the traditional sense of knowledge — in any of these five expectations. The goals you’ve outlined are excellent habits of mind and personal characteristics, but they ignore the “what a student should know” aspect of school.

        School improvement will remain a unattainable goal until administrators and school boards are willing to tackle the curriculum question specifically: What, exactly, do we want our students to learn? Ignoring this important component of education is foolhardy.

        Still stuck on the content…how will we ever move beyond it??