President's Blog

Helping students own their own future

Helping students own their own future

It’s common knowledge that the growth jobs of the future will require, at minimum, constant learning and skill upgrading, plus at least an associate’s degree or higher.  As a result, the push is on to increase postsecondary graduation rates. But the issue runs deeper than obtaining a postsecondary degree. In the New York Times, columnist and author Thomas Friedman describes the life challenge for today’s students as  “owning their own future”.  He notes that technology has disrupted the traditional workplace and the nature of work, such that “the notion that we can go to college for four years and then spend that knowledge over the next 30 years is over.”    So, “owning their own future” will require graduates to change the expectations they bring to the workplace.  Success in the future will be more about personal initiative than ever before, including: Taking personal responsibility for developing the skills and attitudes to support lifelong learning. Understanding how an individual’s unique blend of personality, skills, talents, preferences and knowledge can be constantly adapted to take advantage of new opportunities. Taking the initiative to update knowledge and skills through training or further education throughout life. Simply put, learning — and the self-motivation to keep learning — will be the most important life skill. It is our fundamental belief that the foundation of lifelong learning is built through giving students deep insight into their personality and an understanding of their emotional intelligence and other intelligences, along with their learning and productivity preferences. We all know that putting your innate skills and talents to work in areas where you are more comfortable and... read more
Student success isn’t just about college attainment

Student success isn’t just about college attainment

Much has been written about the need for us to increase attendance and graduation rates at today’s two- and four-year institutions in the national quest to have 60% of Americans holding a degree, certificate or other high quality credential by 2025. According to Lumina Foundation, an independent foundation focused on expanding student success and access to postsecondary education, we’re making progress. The proportion of the U.S. population between the ages of 25 and 64 who hold a two- or four-year college degree reached 40.4% in 2014, a 2.1% increase since this measure was first reported in 2008. Degree attainment has increased even faster among adults aged 25 to 34 during the same period, equal to 42.3% in 2014, a 4.5% increase over the same measure in 2008. As encouraging as these trends are, most experts agree they are not enough to reach our 2025 goal. Lumina projects 35.7 million Americans will earn postsecondary credentials that will count toward Goal 2025. However, they also project an additional 10.9 million Americans between the ages of 15 and 54 would need to be added to reach the 60% goal by 2025. It’s no wonder college attainment is on every educator’s mind these days. But there are those who see the educational challenge as going beyond college attainment to include encouraging development of specific skills that will be necessary for students to thrive and persist in college and in the coming century. Organizations like the Partnership for 21st Century Learning are hard at work partnering with states to make sure K-12 students develop the deeper, critical skills they will need to be productive and... read more
It’s time to look outside our classrooms to improve student outcomes

It’s time to look outside our classrooms to improve student outcomes

We’ve all heard Albert Einstein’s definition of madness: doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results.  It seems to me that we are stuck in this kind of endless loop when it comes to improving the educational outcomes of our students. The stakes are high.  One read through a local newspaper or educational journal gives a bleak picture of student performance, achievement gaps and graduation rates. The current round of debate is entrenched around standardized tests, disagreements over what they measure, and how test results reflect on the quality of the education we’re providing students.  It’s a system based on applying more discipline, more testing, more competition, stress and more accountability. This same debate has raged in educational circles for over 25 years, yet student outcomes have not measurably improved during that time.  And in some cases they have diminished. One might be tempted to conclude we’re focused on the wrong thing when it comes to student outcomes.  By extension, you might ask yourself what is working? A recent article in The Hechinger Report points to Finland, and a very different educational system that was built by “breaking all the rules” as we know them in the U.S.  Some interesting differences include: Teachers are encouraged to experiment in their classrooms and aren’t bound by a rigid bureaucracy. They are expected to be the creative engine behind curriculum, not implementers of top-down policy decisions or standardized tests. Teachers are highly trained. No teacher is allowed to teach in a classroom without a master’s degree in education, with specialization in research and classroom practice. Teachers are respected professionals.... read more
In the push to measure student success, some schools are getting it right

In the push to measure student success, some schools are getting it right

You can’t run a Google search for “student testing” without turning up over half a billion references, almost all about the swirling waters around standardized tests and their pros and cons.  And yet, a recent article in The New York Times describes another growing movement to help students succeed: understanding, teaching and measuring K-12 students’ emotional and social skills. It’s about time.  Educators have long known that measuring the 3Rs only evaluates a part of what makes students successful.  Not only do we know that having engaged parents makes a huge difference, but a growing body of evidence also shows how building strong social skills as early as kindergarten can have a dramatic impact on success and satisfaction later in life. Organizations like  CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) and ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) are hard at work integrating this important focus on emotional and social intelligence in their programs. It makes sense.  We all have learned through experience how important social and emotional behavior skills are in getting along in life.  Now there is empirical evidence that focusing on these skills in the classroom serves our students well. At Human eSources, we’ve long believed that increasing self-awareness of their personality, preferences, skills and talents brings students tremendous confidence in their ability to navigate the everyday challenges they face.  Our products have helped millions of K-12 students understand how to leverage their strengths, gain clarity over their school and career goals and find greater satisfaction in the classroom and in life. If you are a parent of a K-12 student and are interested in... read more
A tip of our hat to school counselors

A tip of our hat to school counselors

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) celebrated National School Counselor Week from February 1-5, 2016. It’s about time we all tip our hats to these professionals and the dedication they bring to their calling. Given the budget pressure faced by school districts, and its impact on the ranks of school counselors, it’s important to recognize the challenges counselors face in making sure the individual students they serve reach their goals. For those not close to this challenge, consider that the average counselor is responsible for keeping over 400 high school students on track for graduation and the student’s next steps — whether they are college or career bound. ASCA recommends a student caseload of 250 students per counselor. In many schools, reaching this recommended level could mean adding just one more counselor. Furthermore, there are many technical solutions available to help these professionals serve their student clients. A small investment here could make a huge impact. Is it worth the investment? Just look at what these professionals do for their students: Today’s school counselor is responsible for ensuring each student is meeting graduation requirements; helping students change classes; helping struggling students get the additional support they need; helping college-bound students maintain grades, explore colleges, take SAT or ACT tests and apply to colleges on time; guiding career-bound students as they explore careers, pursue required training and get themselves in front of prospective employers. Now multiply this by 400 students to better understand the challenge facing a school counselor. Seems to me it is time to address this choke-point so critical to student success. But what can the average person do to help alleviate... read more
School’s out for summer… it’s a great time to reflect on “what’s next”

School’s out for summer… it’s a great time to reflect on “what’s next”

Down-time this summer is important. Just look at how stressed high school students and their parents  are. I don’t know about you, but some of my greatest moments of clarity have come as I’ve laid on a beach, sat on a rock, climbed a steep trail or just took the time to be quiet despite the havoc and confusion of life around me. For me, down-time is important. So, with some summer down time coming, why not spend a little of your downtime exploring “What’s Next” for you? Books are a natural place to start. Amazon is filled with self-help and improvement books that help you answer the “What’s Next?” question. I have tons of these books on my bookshelf and nightstand, and I’ll bet you’ll see beaches and airports filled with people reading them this summer. But when I think of answering “What’s Next?”, I’m also thinking about something much more fundamental…satisfaction with where I am, and where I want to go. Clinical psychology has taught us that the path to satisfaction… answering the “What’s Next” question on a much deeper level… first involves having a deep understanding of yourself…your personality, your strengths, challenges and your unique talents and skills. Most of us, whether adults or students, haven’t had the luxury of time to really explore this deeper aspect of our self nor connect it to ideas about what might be next for each of us. We’ve had to divide our attention between school, work, family and other outside commitments. This summer, you’re likely to have a bit more time for focus on you and your answer to “What’s... read more