In each classroom, in the hallways and in common spaces, and with parents, you’re creating a vision for student success. You’re moving toward improving outcomes for all students - making sure the voices you serve are heard and reflected in your design. Creating this newest normal amid the remnants of a pandemic in a charged environment would be challenging enough.
While compliance initiatives often seem to frustrate the creative vision, HB 4545, with its tutoring requirements between 30-60 hours for any student who was not successful last year on STAAR, has been a greater challenge still - unless you can reframe how it’s thought of.
In speaking with colleagues around the state, one assistant superintendent told our team that they viewed this as the most critical moment for their district - not for the reasons that we were expecting to hear, but because their community was ready to use this to pivot toward a transformative opportunity for how they served their students. “We’re finally taking off the labels. This is our chance to see every student for who they are and who they want to be and design services to meet them.”
HB 4545 requires flexibility and agility (of thought, design, and implementation) to meet needs at scale, and given the STAAR results and absenteeism from last year, the gains from tutoring should not be standalone and isolated to that tutorial space. Districts who can find ways to integrate real-world applications to their classroom can see growth in both academic performance and student engagement, as well as helping to prepare students for success beyond their K-12 career.
This is evident in the required emphasis on ensuring students have multiple pathways to post-graduate success, whether in a traditional college track, certification and training for career fields, or supports for joining the military. “Our school system doesn’t need to create kids who are good at school,” writes Shelley Wright at MindShift. “Instead, we need to create an environment that engages learners, fosters creativity, and puts responsibility for learning where it belongs - with our students.”
Utilizing tutorials in conjunction with CTE pathways or in classrooms that focus on a problem/project-based learning design creates not only a pipeline to a better career opportunity for students, but also an opportunity to keep students in school and engaged in what they learn.
Many students (who all too often see no reality in the connection between what they are interested in and what they are learning) are at risk of dropping out, physically or mentally, altering their high school experience. The new CTE frameworks exceed what the public thinks of as “vocational education.” Students now have pathways in multiple avenues of career and technical education, and the classes teach much more than merely technical skills.’
It’s not solely the connection to other disciplines that drives meaningful connections between tutorials and the real-world environments that students crave in their learning. Educators are so often so overwhelmed by data and adherence to standards - especially in a state with standards as broad as the TEKS - that helping students be who they want to be and become takes a second seat.
Marc Prensky, of the Global Future Education Foundation and institute, writes in his EdWeek essay, “The Goal of Education is Becoming” that “[r]ather than putting so much effort into creating and implementing...standards, we would do far better to design ‘accomplishment-based education’ whereby our kids have the means to become the kinds of people we want them to be…We spend so much time and effort looking at test scores...that we have little time or energy left to focus on who our students are (and are not) as individuals, what they love or hate, and what drives them.”
“When not presented in a narrow way, CTE is about problem-solving and troubleshooting, not just dexterity,” says Mike Rose, an education professor at UCLA and the author of The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker, speaking with the New York Times. This approach on soft skills - the characteristics of quality cooperation, interaction, and communication in the workplace - is vital for students on CTE and college tracks alike.
Designing your tutorials takes a partnership with individuals who are committed to seeing your vision and helping you identify and remove barriers. Littera offers a full team of design services, led by Dr. Janet Wilson, former Chief of Teaching, Learning, and Schools for Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland (as well as a former superintendent), to help districts do just that. Coupled with a flexible tutorial platform, aligned with your district curricula, and designed for your tutors or ours, we’re confident that we can meet those challenges alongside you.