A Teacher’s Paraphrase on Love

If I could explain everything perfectly to my students, but did not love each one of them, I might as well be talking to an empty room. If I could find all the answers to educational problems and did not love, my efforts would be futile. If I could buy every kind of educational aid and sacrificed to do so, but did not have love for my students, it would be a complete waste.

Love is patient when it is necessary to repeat a concept over and over to a student who is having difficulty. Love is kind when an irate parent accuses and berates other teachers or me. Love is not jealous when the other teacher has an entire class of well-behaved and extremely intelligent children while mine are not so great.

Love is not proud or boastful when my students improve greatly and really want to come to my class. Love is willing to yield my schedule and plans to fit in with the needs of others. Love does not scream at my class when they misbehave, but seeks to help them understand the importance of self-discipline.

Love does not broadcast all of my students’ problems and misdeeds to those in the lounge. Love keeps trying even when it seems a student will never understand long division or the difference between an adverb and an adjective.

Teaching methods, bulletin boards, textbooks, yes, even computers, will eventually be discarded, but love is everlasting. These three things I have learned through teaching: endurance, patience and love. And the greatest of these is love.


Fr. Ron Nuzzi

We’re Trying To Do “The Wrong Thing Right” in Schools

Whenever I think about the way most schools are structured today, I always come back to the same question: Do we do the things we do because they’re better for kids or because they are easier for us? For instance: separating kids by age in school. Is that something we do because kids learn better that way? Or do we do it because it’s just an easier way organizing our work? I think all of us know the answer to that. And there are quite a few other comparisons like those that are worth thinking about:

  • Do kids learn better when we separate out the content into different subjects, or is it just easier for us?
  • Do kids learn better when we have every one of them pretty much go through the same curriculum in the same way, or is it just easier for us?
  • Do kids learn better when we have them turn off all of their technology in school, or is it just easier for us?
  • Do kids learn better when we we assess them all the same way, or is it just easier for us?
  • Do kids learn better when we decide what they should learn and how they should learn it, or is it just easier for us?
  • Do kids learn better in 50 or 90 minute blocks, or is it just easier for us?

To be sure, these are not new questions, nor are they unique to my thinking. Many of us in the edu online community have been writing about these things for years. As with much of the “we need to change schools” conversation, it’s another part of the repeatedly articulated argument that appeals to common sense but hasn’t much moved the needle when it comes do doing things any differently in schools.

So why bring it up yet again? Well, for me at least, two words: Russell Ackoff.

A couple of weeks ago, thanks to some serendipitous surfing online, I came across this 10-minute snip of an interview with Ackoff, a pioneer in the field of systems thinking who was a professor at the Wharton School prior to his death in 2009. I was staggered a bit after watching it because he was able to articulate something I have been feeling for a while now but had been unable to find the words for:

“Peter Drucker said ‘There’s a difference between doing things right and doing the right thing.’ Doing the right thing is wisdom, and effectiveness. Doing things right is efficiency. The curious thing is the righter you do the wrong thing the wronger you become. If you’re doing the wrong thing and you make a mistake and correct it you become wronger. So it’s better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right. Almost every major social problem that confronts us today is a consequence of trying to do the wrong things righter.”

Here’s the video:

I’ve been thinking about Ackoff pretty much consistently since I watched it, and the application of that lens to our current practice in schools is profound. Can there be a more apt example of trying to “do the wrong thing right” than in schools? Look again at that list above. Are we in search of efficiency, or effectiveness?

think the answer is obvious. If you watch the clip, you’ll hear Ackoff dive into the education issue head on. He says, and I agree, that the system is not about learning (effectiveness). It’s about teaching (efficiency). And believe me, I understand why we have that focus. Given our devotion to an overstuffed curriculum, standardized tests, “college and career readiness” and more, about the only way we can see our students navigating the school experience is to “teach” it, to organize it, pace it, and assess it in some way that allows us to confer the adjective “educated” to each student. This despite the obvious truth that the vast majority of what we “learn” in school is quickly forgotten, and the truest “education” for our life’s work comes on the job, not in school.

Sadly, “doing the right thing” for our kids in schools is difficult. In education, our structures, our histories, our nostalgia for trying to do the “wrong thing right” runs deep. Regardless of how we got here (and the story is complex,) we are profoundly wedded to what now constitutes this “education system” that dominates our learning world. The roles and expectations of students and teachers and administrators and parents are so clearly reinforced by our own experience, our cultural representations, and by those who have millions of dollars invested in the status quo that any serious suggestion that we might be doing the “wrong thing” is simply layered over by a new initiative, a new technology, a new curriculum, or a new success story to avoid having to grapple with the more fundamental question.

But that will not work for much longer. The contexts for learning and education have changed. As Ackoff says in his book Turning Learning Right Side Up:

There is no way that the vast majority of teachers, whatever their training, can ever hope to match in their classrooms what students can receive at will from sources of their own choosing (14).

Unfortunately, the vast majority of schools I’ve visited continue to try to do the “wrong thing right.” While few teachers or administrators really believe that learning happens best when kids are grouped by age, or when they are all forced to learn the same things on the same day in the same way, or when we chop up what we’ve chosen for the content into 50-minute periods and different subjects, we do that stuff anyway. And, if you look at the recent Gallup survey of engagement of almost 1 million students across the US, trying to do the “wrong thing right” is having devastating consequences. Of high school juniors, just 32% say they are “involved and enthusiastic” in school, 17% say they have fun at school, 17% say they “get to do what they do best,” and 16% say they “will invent something that changes the world.”

Read those numbers again, and ask yourself can we possibly be doing the right thing? Can we possibly label our current practices as “effective?”

As with most addictions, the first step to changing this is to admit we have a problem. The signs that we are reaching “peak education” in the traditional system are becoming more and more apparent by the day. (More about that in a later post.) And while I’m not naive enough to suggest that policy makers and vendors and many educators are at all ready to begin the process of moving away from a focus on efficiency toward a focus on effectiveness, that shouldn’t stop individual teachers or school systems from starting down that path.

Doing the right thing in schools starts with one fairly straightforward question: What do you believe about how kids learn most powerfully and deeply in their lives? Once you’ve answered that as an individual and as a school community, the question that follows is does your practice in classrooms with kids honor those beliefs? In other words, if you believe that kids learn best when they have authentic reasons for learning, when their work lives in the world in some real way, when they are pursuing answers to questions that they themselves find interesting, when they’re not constrained by a schedule or a curriculum, when they are having fun, and when they can learn with other students and teachers, then are you giving priority to those conditions in the classroom? Are you acting on your beliefs?

I’m working with districts where this is the root question, and where the answer is the fundamental driver for every decision made within the system. It’s a recognition that the roles and responsibilities of the system have irrevocably changed due to the shifts in the world we’ve seen over the last two decades. And it’s also a recognition that we have to approach our work with children from an entirely different angle than what we are accustomed to. But make no mistake, it’s a long, difficult process of change to endure.

This is not the first time in our history that we’ve faced such a seismic shift in our needs regarding schools and education. As Ackoff writes:

Here, a culture declaring itself to be the protector of individual liberty, and affording seemingly boundless opportunities for the expression of personal freedom, the challenge of creating a large, docile population that would accept the dominance of the factory system in their lives was enormous. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, it became clear that the only way to succeed with industrializing (and hence modernizing) this country was to find a way to break the inherently free human spirit during childhood (Kindle 177.)

As we are confronted with “modernizing” this country for the networked age, it’s a focus on that “inherently free human spirit during childhood” that is once more at the core of our work. But instead of finding ways to break that spirit in children, this time around we must “do the right thing” and allow it to flourish in profound and beautiful ways for learning.

(Cross posted from WillRichardson.com)

Want to explore more of these ideas around learning and education? Check out my latest TEDx Talk “The Surprising Truth About Learning in Schools.” Or check out my author page on Amazon.com.

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    Will Richardson

    Parent, author, speaker, instigator, blogger about the Web and its effects on schools, education and learning. Co-publisher of ModernLearners.com. @willrich45

  • Let’s Take Time to Remember Why We Love What We Do

    If you do not yet know this about me, I am certain you will come to know it soon. I love good quotes.

    I find the right quotes are inspiring — succinct nuggets that jolt my brain into thinking about ideas in a new way. They can offer fresh perspectives or help clarify something that seemed muddled and complicated. I love a bolt of inspiration and I think we all need that from time to time.

    For some of us, that inspiration may come from certain words strung together in the right way. For others, inspiration may be a few chords of music that put us at ease or a breath of fresh air that fills our hearts with clarity of purpose.

    I have a feeling that many of us — myself included — also take inspiration from the students we see around us.

    It’s OK for us to feel frustrated or overwhelmed sometimes. But when that happens, I hope you are able to come back to whatever it is that gives you inspiration. A quote. Nature. Music. Watching students learn.

    These are the thoughts that came to me after I read this quote, which is more of a short poem, by Tyler Knott Gregson.

    Promise me
    you will not spend
    so much time
    treading water
    and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget,
    truly forget,
    how much you have always loved
    to swim.

    I hope we can all keep our heads above water during whatever challenges we may face. And above all, I hope we can all remember why it is we love to swim.


    21 Things Education Leaders Should Do Right Now

     Getting Smart CEO

    Posted: 01/07/2016 11:01 am EST Updated: 01/07/2016 11:59 am EST

    The Real Work

    It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey.

    The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings. –Wendell Berry

    Being an education leader is complicated and challenging. The politics are personal and multilayered. It can be the best and worst job in the world at the same time. But there is no role where an individual can have more influence over the future of a community, how it thinks about itself and its future.

    Following are seven tips for the first 90 days, seven tips for the second 90 days, and seven things veteran leaders should do to advance personalized learning.

    First 90 Days: Growth Mindset

    1. Make good first impressions–as many as possible. Meet as many people before and during the first 90 days as possible. Visit every school and classroom (if possible). If you want your students to have a growth mindset, you should model it in your first 90 day meetings– hard working, humble, and open minded.

    2. Assess your leadership team. Make any obvious changes as first steps toward building a high trust, high capacity team.
    3. Hone your personal narrative–where you come from, what you’re doing there, what animates you, what you value. You’ll have a hundred opportunities to share your story during your first 90 days.

    4. Open your political capital bank account and make initial deposits. Find and support parent groups and leaders. Join the chamber board. Begin building parent and business support. Make political capital deposits.

    5. Create transparency and candor about what’s working and what could be better, and do it online, in person and in writing. Invite people inside and outside the system to tell you the truth. Let the community experience you as a learner.

    6. Think hard about a couple symbolic acts that let the community know who you are and what you’re about–fix a problem, build a bridge, take a stand. This is your chance to begin building reliable hope.

    7. Remain open but signal a few priorities early. Address obvious inequities. Don’t wait to harvest low hanging fruit.

    Second 90 Days: Agenda Setting

    8. Adopt or build on as much of the old stuff as possible. Continuity counts. Honor the traditions and practices that make sense. Effective leaders adapt their style to the context and maturity of the organization.

    9. Clarify roles and goals for staff members–particularly principals and support service departments. Tell them what you need from them. Let them know what they can expect from you. Make resources allocation and decision making crystal clear.

    10. Hold community conversations that yield temporary agreements that balance improvement and innovation.
    11. Communicate twice as much as you think you need to–and if you’re missing the empathy gene, find an internal partner that can preview your messaging.

    12. Find and leverage teacher leaders. Break your change strategy into projects. Use management of strategic projects to reward and test emerging leaders.

    13. Build a broad dashboard, measure what matters even if it’s hard. If you rely solely on test scores to measure progress, your community will too.

    14. During the inevitable barrage of criticism, remember it’s probably not about you, it’s about the job. Take care of your family, it’s harder on them than it is on you.

    Ready for the heavy lift? There are seven steps to transform a school or district.

    1. Mindset check. Over the last decade Dweck, Duckworth, and Tough reminded us that a growth mindset matters. In addition to the importance of hard work, we think students need the opportunity to make stuff, to take initiative and working collaboratively. In Smart Cities we outlined the formula: Innovation Mindset = Growth Mindset + Maker Mindset + Team Mindset. (Read about classroom strategies for building an innovation mindset).

    If leaders want teachers and students to develop an innovation mindset, they should start by examining their own approach to the work. Ask yourself some tough questions:

    Am I open to learning and growth?
    Do I recognize effort as well as reward performance? Do I create room and incentives for initiative?
    Have I created a collaborative environment?

    2. Share your next generation vision. Leaders should take every opportunity to describe a hopeful future where students and teachers benefit from personalized learning. It’s particularly helpful to describe the kinds of experiences you’d like to see more of (and maybe what you’d like to see less off).

    Denver Public Schools crafted a vision that incorporates active engagement, co-created learning plans, and strong supports.

    Harlem Success Academy principal Andrew Malone suggests simple powerful phrases packed with meaning as a result of lots of examples and conversation.
    El Paso ISD superintendent Juan Cabrera hosted community conversations about what graduates should know and be able to do and shared a vision of active learning in a powered up environment.

    3. Develop talent. The most important lesson of the last 20 years is that talent development–recruiting and developing great teachers and leaders–matters more than anything else.

    As discussed in Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning, educators should have the same kind of learning experiences as students– blended, personalized, and competency-based.
    Digital Promise, in partnership with Bloomboard, is offering micro-credentials that help teachers share what they know ( see/listen to interview).

    Services like MyEdMatch are making it easier for schools to find teachers with the vision and skills they are looking for.

    4. Plan for access. Leaders put their vision on a timeline and help their community make incremental decisions toward high access environments where every student has take home connectivity.

    As Mark Edwards illustrated in Every Child Every Day, connectivity costs about $250 per year per student. District like El Paso are making good use of open content to help pay for 1:1 access.

    As discussed in the Blended Learning Implementation Guide, working in three or four phases makes a digital conversion possible for every district.

    5. Support new school models. We’ve learned a lot about opening good new schools. More than 5,000 schools (both district and charter) were formed in school networks-most around the tried and true formula including a college prep curriculum, talented teachers, and a supportive learning environment. Sponsored by NewSchools Venture Fund and a dozen national and regional foundations, it became apparent that it was easier to open a good new school than to dramatically improve a struggling school-especially a high school.

    With cheap devices and improving broadband coverage, this decade will be marked by the shift to personalized learning in blended environments. The most influential group packaging promising strategies into new and transformed school grants is NGLC featuring a great set of design principles and sustainable models (see an update on the 7 regional funds).

    Two districts combining support for teacher leadership and school redesign include:

    CityBridge Foundation and NewSchools Venture Fund launched the Education Innovation Fellowship, a professional development opportunity for 20 teacher-leaders in Washington DC. They meet monthly for a year, surveying all the sector knowledge about next gen tools and models and visit innovative schools. Two cohorts of Fellows have energized education in the city and supported new and transformed schools benefiting from NGLC grants.

    Fulton County is growing a cadre of Vanguard Teachers (four per school) who have mastered the art of technology use with classroom instruction (see 6 personalized learning lessons).

    6. Partnerships for progress. Schools can’t do this work alone. Chapter four of Smart Cities outlines the importance of partnerships to meet the needs of youth and families, to promote college awareness and readiness, to develop talent, to build
    improvement capacity, and to incubate innovation. After three years of studying innovations in learning in America’s great cities is that ecosystems matter–and partnerships drive ecosystems.

    7. Stick around! Different than the revolving door common in many urban centers, real equity producing progress takes time–a broad web of leadership sustained over a decade.

    Managers execute where they are. Leaders transport groups to places they’ve never been. Good superintendents build teams that do both. For more, see:

    Disclosure: Tom Vander Ark is CEO of Getting Smart and a partner at Learn Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in educational technology.

    Follow Tom Vander Ark on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tvanderark


    5 Questions for Bend-La Pine’s New Superintendent

    Shay Mikalson, the new superintendent for the Bend-La Pine School District, sat down with BEND Magazine to talk growth, goals and technology.

    How is it going so far?

    It’s a dream job in a dream district. I have five kids, so this work is not only about the 17,500 that we serve, but four of mine are in our schools. I’m absolutely thrilled to be in this role.

    Where do the schools need to improve?

    We need to improve for our students that are historically underserved or disadvantaged students in poverty, our English Language Learners. Those are the students we’re seeing that, while we’re having growth, we’re not having the growth that’s necessary for them to catch up or close that achievement gap, and that needs to be a focus.

    How do you think technology, such as iPads, is benefitting students?

    We think it’s a great resource, and as we look forward, we want to provide not only a 21st Century education, but the skills they need, too. We think it’s a critical tool. But just that, a tool.

    How are you responding to Central Oregon’s growth?

    This year we’re up about 380 students from where we were at the end of last year. We look for expertise across our community, as well as partner with Portland State Population Research Center and others to really help forecast where growth might be happening and work closely on that.

    As a parent yourself, what are parents most concerned with right now?

    I think our challenge, or our opportunity, as we look forward is making our system fit the needs of each of our students, instead of asking our students to fit into this system of schools. We’re getting great achievement, but we just need to make sure that achievement is happening for all of our kids.

    What to Keep? What to Let Go of?

    My New Year’s Resolution is to do simple, better.

    It may sound odd, considering how much we have to do and how much we want to improve. And yet, this is the year that I commit to do less better. I want to do fewer things but at a higher quality.

    This personal resolution comes from my reflection on a Harvard Business Review article I read over break, “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” In it, author Greg McKeown examines why many successful people and organizations don’t automatically become very successful. While his article is more detailed, one important explanation is due to something he calls “the clarity paradox,” which he sums up like this:

    Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.
    Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.
    Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts. Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

    Curiously, and overstating the point in order to make it, McKewon argues success can be a catalyst for failure. As Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent, I view my primary job is to provide clarity of purpose across our district.

    For me, there is no better way to provide clarity than through stories. In all my interactions, I attempt to tell stories that help us recall our true purpose as educators. I believe it is an antidote to what author Jim Collins refers to as “the undisciplined pursuit of more.”

    With that said, I would like to share one of my favorite stories about Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. And as the story goes, Gandhi was getting on a train one day when one of his sandals slipped off and fell to the ground. The train was moving, and there was no time to go back. Without hesitation, Gandhi took off his second sandal and threw it toward the first. Asked by his colleague on the train why he did that, he said one sandal wouldn’t do him any good, but two would certainly help someone else.

    People cherish the story as a marvelous example of a charitable act. And so it is. But more importantly, for me, as it relates to our efforts in the Bend-La Pine Schools, Ghandi performed a knowledgeable act.

    As he tossed that second sandal, he showed wisdom about what to keep and what to let go of. Those are both central questions for educators as we work to ensure all of our students are not just test- ready, but future-ready.

    We are choosing for today’s learners the sandals they need for tomorrow’s journey.

    The Genius of our District Lies in Each of You


    As I reflected over the Thanksgiving holiday about what to say in this month’s update, I realized anything I attempted to write would fail to accurately convey my appreciation for all you do and for the grace with which you do your work. I know of no better way to express my appreciation than to simply say “thank you.”

    During my first three years of teaching, I taught math to 35 mostly male students, none of whom had passed a math class during their high school career. On a daily basis I faced 35 examples of the failure of American education. From this experience, I learned that we can make a difference, but not if we are attempting it alone. I needed the support of my fellow teachers and I needed to know I was part of a team that cared about making a difference. I believe we all need the support and collective wisdom found in a system and a team.

    The expectations we set — whether it’s mastery of state standards or table manners at Thanksgiving dinner — define desired outcomes. But as much as we would like it to be so, expectations alone cannot cause an outcome to occur. Instead, we need to focus on the conditions we create and intentions we possess. These can make a far greater difference to students, especially those who — like the math students I taught in my early years — are used to not meeting expectations.

    I see extraordinary efforts happening in our schools to create conditions that provide every student with every chance, every day to become not just “test-ready,” but “future- ready.” You are providing breakfast for students who are hungry, ensuring our campuses are safe, making classrooms welcoming to all and so much more.

    In whitewater rafting, you learn the only way to succeed is for everyone in the boat to sit out on the edge and paddle really hard, even though everyone would rather be sitting in the center, where it’s safer. For Bend-La Pine Schools to realize its biggest dreams, everyone needs to respond with paddles in the water. We want staff members to feel confident sitting on the edge — knowing they have the support of a team who is paddling alongside them.

    The solutions to our challenges and the hope for our future are almost always right in front of us. If we believe the problems or solutions in our district are found beyond us, then we have rendered ourselves irrelevant. The genius of our district lies in each of you.

    I encourage each of us to continually hear the call to paddle in unison.

    No matter what your role or job title, we want your experience with Bend-La Pine Schools to be thoughtful, personal and meaningful. Let me know what we can do to better support your work, connection and engagement with who we are, what we do and that which we aspire to be.


    I am honored to serve — and paddle in unison — alongside you.

    Six Elements of a High Performance Culture

    Dan Rockwell
    Leadership Freak–Empowering Leaders 300 Words at a Time

    High performance is about inspiring not pressuring.

    high performance coaching culture

    #1 Philosophies in high performance cultures:

    1. Servant-leadership. Leaders serve teammates. Teammates serve each other. Everyone serves customers.
    2. Maximize strengths. Understand, acknowledge, and leverage strengths more than fixing weaknesses.
    3. Behavior focus. High performance always degenerates into observable behaviors.

    #2. A fundamental belief in high performance cultures:

    Coaching maximizes potential, expands capacity, and enhances fulfillment.

    1. High performance coaching:
      • Is a fundamental way to develop and lead people.
      • Requires heart.
      • Is forward-facing.
    2. Successful coaches:
      • Partner rather than pull rank.
      • Make people feel valued and powerful.
      • Leverage curiosity and listening.
      • Believe people want to succeed.
      • Serve the best interest of coachees and the organization.
      • Keep one eye on the scoreboard and two on the playing field.
    3. Successful coachees:
      • Aspire to grow and contribute.
      • Practice transparency, candor, and vulnerability.
      • Take responsibility for their own development and performance.

    #3. Coaching principles:

    1. Create safe environments.
    2. Focus on the future, even when discussing the past.
    3. Monitor energy.

    #4. Coaching practices:

    1. Ask questions.
    2. Listen openly.
    3. Offer reflections and observation.
    4. Design solutions and goals.
    5. Inspire ownership.
    6. Schedule follow up.

    #5. Coaching patterns:

    High performance cultures leverage the power of systems without treating people like machines.

    1. Basic coaching patterns.
    2. Coaching patterns for special situations.
      • Performance problems.
      • New opportunities.
      • Conflict.
    3. Patterns that build results and relationships.

    #6. Coaching plans:

    High performance organizations develop execution plans. How will you move the ball down the field?

    1. Use checklists before and after coaching sessions.
    2. Schedule quarterly meeting to debrief, train, and support coaches.
    3. Leverage evaluation systems for coaches and coachees.
      1. What’s working?
      2. How might this relationship be better?
      3. What percentage of time did my coach spend listening?

    What ideas might you add to a the six elements of high performance coaching culture?

    Where is more clarity needed?

    Student Engagement, Hope Outrank Tests as Measures of Schools’ Success, Poll Finds


    How should the public determine if schools are doing their jobs?

    Respondents to the 2015 PDK/Gallup poll ranked “how engaged students are with their classwork” and “the percentage of students who feel hopeful about their future” at the top of a list of possible signs of schools’ success, well above standardized test results, which won the least favor in the poll.

    Check out this Education Week story for a run-through of the poll’s complete results. But first, check out this graph to learn more about respondents’ views on school effectiveness.

    kappan1.JPGThe poll results, released Sunday, will surely bolster growing efforts to boost student engagement, to nuture social and emotional skills in schools, and to track non-academic indicators alongside grades and test scores.

    A growing body of research finds that students who are engaged in classroom work are more likely to be academically successful. And some organizations, such as Gallup Education, see students’ hope as a predictor of engagement. Gallup has even developed a hope index, a series of questions used to track students’ hope for the future.

    How do schools measure students’ hope and engagement?

    In a separate unweighted 2014 poll of U.S. students, Gallup used a series of questions to measure students’ hope and engagement. Using the results, the organization classified 54 percent of respondents as “hopeful,” 32 percent as “stuck,” and 14 percent as “discouraged.” Of respondents, 55 percent were deemed “engaged,” 28 percent “not engaged,” and 17 percent as “actively disengaged.”

    Gallup used student responses to the following questions to measure hope:

    • I know I will graduate from high school.
    • There is an adult in my life who cares about my future.
    • I can think of many ways to get good grades.
    • I energetically pursue my goals.
    • I can find lots of ways around any problem.
    • I know I will find a good job after I graduate.

    These questions were used to gauge engagement:

    • I have a best friend at school.
    • I feel safe in this school.
    • My teachers make me feel my schoolwork is important.
    • At this school, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
    • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good schoolwork.
    • My school is committed to building the strengths of each student.
    • I have at least one teacher who makes me excited about the future.

    Of course, public recognition of the importance of these issues isn’t necessarily a sign they should be used in school accountability frameworks. That’s in part because these qualities are difficult to measure. But the poll results do provide insight for policymakers and educators about how much the public is paying attention to issues other than traditional academic accountability.