By Alice Thomas
As we begin a new school year, we think it is important to have our end goals in mind. In that way, we will be reminded of what we are working toward. With that in mind, we ask the following two questions:
What should students know and be able to do?
What follows are responses to those two broad questions. The responses come from two sources: a “think tank” convened by the Center for Development and Learning, and 80 public forums conducted by School-to Career in the metropolitan New Orleans area.
The CDL think tank consisted of 31 members, including the Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education, a member of the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, a district superintendent, the dean of the College of Education at University of New Orleans, the past president of the Louisiana Staff Development Council, the co-chair of the Greater New Orleans Education Foundation, the director of the Louisiana Alliance for School Reform, Louisiana principals and teachers, community and business leaders, parents, and CDL Trustees and senior staff.
The School-to-Career public forums were held with 1600 parents and community members in the metropolitan New Orleans area.
Please note that “Students” includes all students: K – 12 students, students at the university level, and teachers who are learners in professional development programs. “Teachers” includes all teachers: K – 12 teachers, and teacher educators at both the university and district levels.
What Students Should Know and Be Able To Do
A Synthesis of Information from the CDL Think Tank and the New Orleans School-to-Career Public Engagement Initiative
Students have mastered reading, writing, speaking, listening and conversing effectively with the aim of communicating knowledge, ideas, opinions and feelings.
Solve problems creatively.
Students are innovative, creative thinkers who understand risk taking and approach the process of problem solving fearlessly. They understand how to formulate questions about difficult issues and create possible solutions. They know how to transform “mistakes” into opportunities for getting closer to defining the solutions.
Master a defined body of knowledge.
Students have mastered a body of knowledge, acquiring the information, ideas, and skills that form the base for future learning and societal progress. Of particular importance are arts appreciation and performance (music, art, drama, dance); mathematics; technology, including accessing and communicating information; the physical sciences; literature; and social sciences, including an appreciation of history, culture, sociology, psychology, and civics.
Commit to life long learning.
Students desire to be lifelong learners and want to participate in opportunities for continued learning. They seek to learn both independently and collaboratively with others.
Understand how they learn.
Students know their own cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and use strategies that allow them to learn effectively and efficiently. They are able to conceptualize what they need to learn. They are skilled in using resources to find information and have the ability to analyze and synthesize the information they need.
Plan their lives skillfully.
Students have an understanding of opportunities available to them and are beginning to know and match their strengths with their opportunities. They seek out effective role models and environments where they can make a difference. They are able to adapt to different situations; they can take knowledge and apply it to real life situations.
Achieve interpersonal and intrapersonal success.
Students are able to function effectively as a member of a group, whether that group is a family, a social group or a work team. They are personally and emotionally confident, possessing an understanding of civil behavior. Students are tolerant of diversity, demonstrate empathy toward others, are responsive and helpful to others, and capable of conflict management. They understand, respect and celebrate individual differences.
Exhibit global citizenship.
Students have an awareness of cultural differences and how these differences influence the actions of others. They understand and practice the concepts of good citizenship, in our country and in the world. Students leave school with a strong sense of responsibility toward their fellow men and women. They want to make the world a better place.