The following article was contributed by Andrea Chavez-Kopp, Assistant Director for Educational and Formation Programs.
The NCEA Assessment conference draws to a close today with a general keynote address given by Dr. John Cronin, VP of Education Research with NWEA. He gave some thoughts about how to frame, analyze and communicate student achievement to a Catholic school community. He highlighted 3 key typical communication events:
- Parent conferences
- Principal/superintendent letters to parents
- Annual reports
Dr. Cronin starts by describing a culture of accountability where we evaluate people by looking for them to fail against a set of rules. The best you can get is a “pass” and if not, punishment will follow. It’s not a model for engaging in conversation.
Cronin proposed a different model, focused on stewardship. Stewardship focuses on the precious resource entrusted to us in Catholic education, our children. Accountability means a relationship of trust and dialogue between school, parents and community.
Cronin goes on to cite ways educational leaders create trust.
- Love your mission
- Believe your stakeholders are intelligent
- Be able to explain their work
- Be transparent about failure
- Have a plan and take action
- Accept responsibility and temper expectations
- Demonstrate Progress
- Credit subordinates with their successes
He advises that every conference should start with talking about the strengths of the child. Educators should convey that we know and understand the child as we share academic information and needs for concern with parents.
Regarding letters from principals or superintendents be:
- Optimistic in tone
- Plain, yet thoughtful
- Personal and conversational
- Realistic in setting goals and transparent
- Praises subordinates for successes
In closing, he recommends that all communications should
- Identify the audience,
- Understand what they want to know
- Be transparent
- And share a plan for improved performance
If you were unable to attend the conference, but want access to the presentations and resources presented, download the NCEA Conferences App in the mobile app store.