As parents, and as in my case as a grandparent, we all want the best for our children and grandchildren, with “quality schools” appearing high on our wish lists. But how do we know what is a quality school?
The problem is, most school measures are incomplete. Test scores provide information about what they are designed to measure — student knowledge of the questions asked on the test – but offer no insight into the total student experience. Are they receiving quality instruction and from caring teachers? What about the robustness of curriculum, and the overall learning environment and culture of the school?
How can families recognize a quality school? And as educators, how can we be sure that we are focusing our efforts on what matters most? The answer, of course, lies in the question: what matters most?
What matters most to us here in Sunnyvale School District is to help prepare students for their next level of learning. Our students need to be resilient and they need to be equipped with the drive to become life-long learners. They need to possess the ability to be creative in order to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
It has been said that knowledge was the currency of the 20th Century, but Ideas are the currency of the 21st Century. And the most valued workers in our children’s future will not be those who possess the most knowledge, but those who seek solutions, possess the ability to work constructively, civilly, and collaboratively in solving novel and complex problems. I believe that opportunities will always be there for those who possess these traits.
A quality school is one that not only successfully supports all students with the traditional subjects but also nurtures the whole child and instills all of the traits necessary to be successful in the 21st Century. I believe that is what matters most and that is what we strive to do in Sunnyvale School District so all children can have a productive, happy future.
My warm wishes to you for a wonderful spring,
Benjamin H. Picard, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools