Since May 2009, I’ve been co-chairing a Metro Schools committee charged with developing strategies to reform public high school education in our city. Appointed by Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register, our MNPS Achieves High School Committee is composed of educators and community members, and is co-chaired by the Associate Superintendent for High Schools, Jay Steele. This committee is one of nine transformational leadership groups working on a variety of issues and challenges under the district’s MNPS Achieves banner.
From the very beginning, we felt it was important to define the successful MNPS graduate. Any reform strategies we developed needed to support the district’s new vision statement: Every MNPS student will have the foundation of knowledge, skills and character necessary to excel in higher education, work and life. That’s a vision statement that covers all the bases, but how do we quantify success? In other words, how do we measure whether each MNPS graduate is prepared to “excel in higher education, work and life?”
Starting with a long list of possible criteria, and narrowing that list down over the past year through committee discussion and interaction with educators and students from seven different MNPS high schools, we’ve come up with the following:
Every Metro Schools graduate has:
- a plan for postsecondary education and career
- at least a 21 composite score on the ACT
- a work-based or service learning experience, or a capstone research project
- at least one course completed online
- college credit, a nationally recognized professional certification, or both
We want every student to stay in school and graduate, but it’s not enough for our graduates to leave our school system with only a high school diploma. They need to be prepared for their future, and they need skills, experience and a head start in furthering their education. We won’t get there overnight, and it doesn’t mean a student can’t graduate if one or more of these criteria is lacking. But it does mean that we will report district and school progress toward every graduate meeting these five criteria.
Our committee is scheduled to present this work to the Metropolitan Board of Education shortly after the start of the 2010-2011 school year. In subsequent posts, I’ll be describing in more detail what each of these criteria mean, and how we intend to get there. Adopting these five criteria to ensure that MNPS realizes its vision is a strong statement that sets the bar high, in a very measurable and tangible way, for our students.
Co-Chairs Jay Steele, Marc Hill and members of the MNPS Achieves High School Committee meet with teachers at Whites Creek High School on May 18, 2010.