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Ensuring Stakeholders a Stake

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As educational reform moves forward, who should be at the table? Should teachers, administrators, staff, parents, business leaders, foundations, students, etc. be involved in developing new systems? The answer is a resounding all of the above. Unless those impacted by change are involved in its development, the chances of success are greatly diminished. Good leaders know that people tend to support what they help develop and resist what is imposed upon them.

It is fine for leaders to come up with big ideas as long as the implementation design includes those on the front lines. This doesn't speak well of thenew evaluation systems for teachers that are being developed around the country with federal funding tied to revamping these systems, many states have moved very quickly on making changes without enough input from stakeholders.

Who knows better how to evaluate a teacher's performance than those who are currently working directly with students? It is my prediction that in those cases where there has been limited involvement, the new systems will struggle and ultimately fail.

Here in Kentucky, we have been fortunate because we have a group of stakeholders working on the development of a new evaluation system, and we will even have a pilot year to work out the implementation bugs. Even with systems as controversial as evaluations, I believe we will see much higher success rates after the initial launch. Kentucky has been first in a lot of the new reform efforts (adoption of common core, assessing the common core) but has been smart to go slowly to develop a new evaluation system.

One of the skills business leaders say they want from the future workforce is the ability to work in teams. We need to model ways to meet this expectation beginning with the formation of reform advisory teams. These reform teams, made up of stakeholders like those mentioned above, would be a place to test ideas and receive feedback to refine them. Of course, these committees must be real and not places that exist only to justify the fact that ideas were indeed bounced off of them. Leaders must be open to listening and making adjustments based on the response.

Reform of one kind or another is happening all over our country. Who is involved in your community? Are legislators calling all the shots without true input from those having to implement the changes? I encourage you to get involved and be a voice in the changes that will impact our future.

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