Friday, October 12, 2012



I have shared before, that in my district we are "systems thinkers". As such, we follow a problem solving model - IDEAS (*PEG, LLC). Identify the problem, Determine the root cause, explore possible solutions, assess the results, standardize the improvement.

Recently, the NJ Department of Education has set out on a new quest. They are determined to shift from a compliance mindset to one of support, so they say. While I do not question their intentions, these are good people who are up against a monumental task- educating every student to the same standard. I've written extensively about my vexation with that so I will spare you here. Despite their intentions, what follows is still compliance oriented.

For example, under the new RAC's or Regional Achievement Centers, designed to help the neediest districts (*based on NJASK scores), RAC states that all Priority Schools must make several new positions. One is a "Data Specialist". Without following any model of problem solving that I'm familiar with, they determined if you are a Priority School - meaning your students did not all pass the NJASK at the level they deemed appropriate, you must have a data management problem. They have not presented any data that supports that my district needs a data specialist, actually the RAC Director has applauded us for our systems approach; nonetheless we are told to hire a 'Data Specialist' for that school. Where's the process here? They identified a problem, students are not proficient, but they have missed the root cause analysis piece where they search for the cause of the problem and leaped to standardizing by mandating that we must hire a data specialist. Their model would be IS instead of IDEAS.

Just think if NASA solved problems this way...Houston we have a booster problem, ok, hire a data person...