World Class Schools – Our Students

World Class SchoolsIn my previous post I presented my vision for world class schools at UCF.  In a series of six posts, I will go deeper into each of my six priorities for our schools.

Priority #1:    All students graduating fully prepared to achieve their academic and career goals.

Perhaps it is stating the obvious, but our schools exist for the benefit of the children in our community.   Therefore, we must put the needs of our students at the center of everything we do.  Our resources, attention, and focus must be squarely on them.   And our programs, policies, and people must be applied to bring out the best in each student, providing the opportunities and support each child needs to reach his or her full potential.

When students graduate from Unionville High School, each and every young adult should be well-prepared for their next step.  Whether moving on to college or entering the work force, our graduates should be sought after for their knowledge, their skills, and their character.

Because almost all UHS students go on to college, rigorous academic preparation is essential.  And the high standards and expectations must run through all grade levels, expressed in age-appropriate ways, so that all students are meeting or exceeding grade-level standards and benchmarks.

And recognizing that every student is different, our academic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular offerings should supplement the academic core with multiple pathways to excellence, whether it is in STEM, the Arts, or in vocational training.

Readiness for college and the workplace goes beyond academic knowledge.  It also means our students need to develop skills that are valued in the 21st century economy.   These skills include teamwork, innovation, creativity, self-confidence, critical thinking, and the ability to communicate effectively.   We must complement our academic training with skill-building so that kids are not only book smart, but also start to develop the 21st century skills they will need in the marketplace.

Students must also develop into good citizens, who demonstrate honesty, compassion, persistence, patriotism, and the other virtues that are valued in our community.    We must produce not only talented kids, but virtuous ones who will apply their talents within the law and in a way that will make our community proud.

The preparation we provide must be world class, because our students will be competing for college admission, graduate school slots, and employment with applicants from around the world.  Half of all graduate students in science, engineering and health are foreign-born!

How do we measure progress toward our goals?  Our students should be reaching high levels of proficiency, and also achieving high levels of annual growth .  Achievement measures performance against standards (DIBELS, GMADE, PSSAs, SAT scores.)  Growth measures the pace and amount of annual learning accomplished between assessments.  World class schools ensure every student is growing, acquiring more than one year of knowledge each school year.  And we should see growth in students at the top, the bottom and the middle deciles.   World class schools also have high levels of achievement,  providing the challenges and opportunities our students are ready to pursue.

As we put our students at the center of all we do, UCF can become a world class system for student learning and growth.  And that will open more doors to new opportunities at each stage of life, for each and every student.