The district’s chief academic officer, Dr. Judi Jones, last week proposed that a 16-member advisory committee be created, composed of teachers, school leaders, administrators, PTA members and other people. They would be appointed by the district’s central staff by April 30, per Dr. Jones’ plan, and the school board would hash over the proposal in a half-day retreat at its offices in May or June.
The old strategic plan got no respect from various constituents. For example, when the plan was presented, a Cobb teacher e-mailed your columnist: “We already have most of what’s on that ‘strategic plan’ right now. They just changed the name of the ‘overview and goals for a first class school system.’ They repackaged it, added a few minor changes and are calling it the ‘strategic plan.’” There also were complaints that the plan would judge schools in part by the number of people joining the PTA.
But it’s a new day, says Super Dr. Michael Hinojosa, and a new plan is needed. Why would a new one be any better than the old one?, asked board vice chairman David Morgan. To which Dr. Jones replied, “There’s nothing wrong with the previous plan. It’s a good plan. But I don’t think we necessarily had all the buy-in that we really need.” She said more people should be involved to generate more buy-in.
The intriguing part of the board’s discussion last week focused on measurements, which Dr. Jones said “tell you how you know that your plan is working and whether or not you need to make any adjustments or changes as you move forward with that.” She said that in the past the measurements became “overwhelming.” People “got more stuck on those measurements,” she said. So in the new plan, measurements of progress should be “part of it, but it should not be the key and the most important part.”
Board member Alison Bartlett agreed, saying “When your measurements become the end-all-be-all, you get the propensity for people to cheat and to lie because all of a sudden they are being measured on a number. In education, we’re so busy measuring that teachers can’t teach.”
Granted, students get a whale of a lot of testing, but that’s different from measuring the progress of a school district’s strategic plan. I never got the impression that the problem with the Cobb school board and district stemmed from over-measuring the progress or lack of progress based on the strategic plan.
School board Chairman Scott Sweeney explained it all after the meeting. He said, “If you can figure out how to quantify subjectivity, let me know….You’re generally talking about things like ‘How does this feel, how does it look?’ and they aren’t necessarily tangible things.”
It’s no wonder there’s a problem measuring progress.