The members of our newly-announced International Advisory Group (IAG) recently traveled from their homes across the globe to Wilmington, Delaware. Over the course of their visit, there was a series of conversations with Delawareans about efforts in the state to improve public education. To achieve our mission of helping Delaware build one of the finest systems of public education in the world by 2020, these international experts reinforce the importance of the strategies the state is pursuing to become a high-performing system. The IAG members were excited about Delaware’s progress and current work to improve our public education system, and offered several suggestion for how to build on Delaware’s successes and momentum.
On April 6, Andreas Schleicher and other IAG members Joanne Weiss, former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Jim Dueck, former Assistant Deputy Minster in Alberta, Canada; and Ben Jensen, CEO of Learning First spoke to a full room of over 100 attendees about what Delaware can learn from the rest of the world. Schleicher kicked off the event with a presentation on findings from his work directing the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the world’s leading measurement of nations’ student performance and knowledge.
In his discussion, Schleicher shared that high-performing countries share similar attributes:
- A commitment to education and the belief that all children, regardless of circumstance or country, are capable of learning, achieving, and the ability to own their learning and progression.
- A highly aligned system of curriculum, instruction, and assessment with clear, ambitious goals.
- A focus on attracting, developing, and retaining high quality school leaders and teachers.
- Aligned incentive structures for students and teachers, coupled with strategic autonomy for accomplishing clear standards that are public and involve the participation of teachers in management.
- An investment of resources where they can make the biggest impact on student learning and achievement.
- An orientation towards constant learning and improvement, using international benchmarks and an anticipation of potential threats and challenges.
These common attributes have been targeted in state efforts, and Delaware has made great strides in working to improve educational outcomes for Delaware students; nevertheless, continued focus is critical. Current and future Delaware students are relying on us to ensure that every child can attend a great school.
We must continue looking beyond the norm to continuously improve the quality of public education so that each Delaware child has the best foundation to build his or her future.