Rodel’s Latest Data Guide and Our Priorities for the Year

Author: Paul Herdman

Welcome to the 2018 edition of Delaware Public Education At A Glance, Rodel’s annual snapshot of data and trends from our public schools. In the spirit of unveiling, there’s no better time than now to share our priorities for the coming year—the areas where the Rodel team will spend our time and energy with our partners in the community.

Our three big priorities for the year:

  • Keep the Student Success 2025 plan moving
  • Double down on college and career success
  • Deepen social and emotional learning in Delaware

So, what does this mean?

  1. Keep the Plan Moving. We help support the Vision Coalition move Student Success 2025 This plan provides the state with well-informed guideposts for uplifting public education to new heights between now and 2025. The 47 policy recommendations spread across six core areas (below) serve as our roadmap. When it comes to implementing those recommendations, we see our role as a partner with policymakers, educators, and community members to bring ideas into action.

 

More specifically, we will advocate for several targeted budget or policy issues over the next several months:

  • On early learning, we support the administration’s budgetary ask of $3.8 million to support quality early learning.
  • On funding, we have argued for more than a decade that our current funding system is unfair, inflexible, and opaque. So, we, in concert with the Education Equity Delaware coalition, will support efforts to modernize the system so that it works for our kids now and into the future.
  • On system governance, we will speak up to make sure that the state’s federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan is implemented with fidelity. In particular, we want to see clear graphics that are accessible to parents and the public in the state’s soon-to-be-released school report cards—including school-level financial reporting and a great deal more student information. Just like everyone else, we want to see positive change for the students in our Wilmington schools. We support the recent MOU that was recently signed by the Christina School District and the Carney Administration, and we realize that this is just the beginning.  We will do our part to help move this work forward and we believe the progress we collectively make here could have major implications for not only the thousands of children in the five schools being discussed, but for our highest need children throughout this state.

 

  1. Double Down on College and Career Success. Another big goal is to help even more young people prepare for life after high school. We think we can chip in by identifying and shepherding even more local and national resources to postsecondary programming.
  • We recently worked with a range of public and private sector leaders to produce Supporting Postsecondary Success in Delaware: A Landscape Analysis of Student Opportunities. While we uncovered some great assets, we also found that there’s a lot of work to do to help our young people make smart decisions post high school. This year, we’ll discern where (and with whom) we can partner to get some concrete work done to move this analysis to action.
  • We’re proud of the state’s collective work to date on career pathways—expanding from 27 participants in 2014 to over 9,000 in 2018—but we have a lot more on our minds, particularly in helping students connect to meaningful work-based experiences. At Rodel, we collaborate with local businesses to help facilitate growth, educate the public about why this is important, and bring the needed resources to accelerate the work on the ground.

 

  1. Deepen Social and Emotional Learning in Delaware. The world is changing fast, and if we want our young people to thrive in it, we need to rethink how we equip them. The North Star at the center of Student Success 2025 is all about the nonacademic skills—like creativity, communication, empathy—that will be vital for young people entering the real world. While the Rodel Teacher Council and the district members of the BRINC Consortium have dedicated time and energy on personalized or blended learning, there is a groundswell of interest in the social and emotional factors that affect how kids learn, particularly those in our most challenged neighborhoods.
  • A study is underway—in partnership with Nemours, Christiana Care, Arsht-Cannon Fund and others—to assess what’s underway in social and emotional learning, what’s working, and where there are gaps and alignment opportunities. In our view, SEL is not an add-on, it’s foundational to, and should be embedded in, academic learning.
  • The Rodel Teacher Council is working to redefine what the next generation of learning will look like. Groups of teachers are exploring how our local colleges and universities can accept “competency-based” transcripts from students, allowing students to showcase their subject mastery, rather than a letter grade or test score. They are advocating for an annual review of broadband connectivity in schools, making the case for innovative professional development for teachers based on competency versus credit hours, and connecting districts and charters interested in collaborating to develop social and emotional competencies.

I’m inspired by the passion I see in our teachers and the commitment I see our public and private sector leaders dedicated to doing whatever it takes to improving the lives of our young people.

If you are interested in learning more about these issues, email us at info@rodelfoundationde.org. Change is hard, but when we work together, we can make big things happen. Our children deserve nothing less.

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