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Pathways: Preparing Students for Success in the 21st Century

Monday, March 21, 2 p.m. Eastern time
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 Pathways: Preparing Students for Success in the 21st Century(03/20/2011) 
1:46
edweekbryan: 
Hey there, folks. Our chat is now open for questions, so please sumbit any you have down below. Our guests Ron Wolk and Bill Symonds will be joining us at 2pm Eastern on Monday -- be sure to come back then. Cheers!
Sunday March 20, 2011 1:46 edweekbryan
10:34
[Standby]  The host is placing this Live Event into Standby Mode.
10:37
edweekbryan: 
Good morning, folks. The chat is open for questions - please submit yours down below. We'll be back today at 2pm ET with Ron Wolk and Bill Symonds, so join us then.
Monday March 21, 2011 10:37 edweekbryan
1:58
edweekbryan: 
Good afternoon, folks. We're about ready to get underway with our guests Ron Wolk and Bill Symonds, so I'm handing it over to today's moderator, Elizabeth Rich, editor of the EW Commentary section. Take it away, Elizabeth!
Monday March 21, 2011 1:58 edweekbryan
1:58
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Thanks, Bryan. Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to Education Week’s online chat on pathways and student success. We’re excited to have our two guests join us today—Bill Symonds is the director of the Pathways to Prosperity Project, based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and former chief education correspondent for Business Week; and Ron Wolk is the founder and former editor of Education Week, chairman of Big Picture Learning, and the author of the recently published book Wasting Minds: Why Our Education System is Failing and What We Can Do About It. Welcome, gentlemen.
I think you’ve both got a few words you wanted to share with us before we get started. Bill, would you like to get us started?
Monday March 21, 2011 1:58 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
1:59
Bill Symonds: 
Thank you, Elizabeth. It's a pleasure to be with you this afternoon. The Pathways Report has generated enormous interest around the country, and I look forward to answering questions today.
Monday March 21, 2011 1:59 Bill Symonds
2:00
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, did you have anything you wanted to say before we get started?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:00 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:01
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
While we're waiting for Ron, I just want to note that we have a lot of questions, but I've also got a few that I'm dying to ask so once we hear from Ron, we'll get started.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:01 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:03
Ron Wolk: 
I'm, ron wollk, foundeer and former editor of EdWeek and Teacher Mag. my screen was frozen.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:03 Ron Wolk
2:03
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
SOrry about that Ron!.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:03 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:04
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
While Ron is working on that problem, let me ask Bill the following:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:04 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:04
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
We know this report has stirred controversy and debate. Where is the tension? what are we missing?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:04 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:05
Bill Symonds: 
Thanks, Elizabeth. The report challenges conventional thinking about school reform, so I guess some people may feel threatened. However, our view is that the approach we advocate would actually increase opportunities for America's youth.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:05 Bill Symonds
2:06
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, you've written about the importance of flexible pathways. What can we do to avoid the specter of tracking--it's out there and definitely worth discussing.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:06 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:06
Do we focus too much on the importance of the college degree?
Yes
 ( 69% )
No
 ( 31% )

Monday March 21, 2011 2:06 
2:07
Ron Wolk: 
tracking placed kids in programs based on race, perceptions of ability, and "manifest destiny:, but pathways are far from tracking. voluntary and based on student interest and ambitions.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:07 Ron Wolk
2:08
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ok, thanks. We got some interesting poll results. Next question, i'm going to direct to Bill. It's from a reader.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:08 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:08
[Comment From Jennifer OJennifer O: ] 
What kind of non-monetary incentives do you think employers need in order to dedicate resources to support partnerships with schools and work-based learning opportunities?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:08 Jennifer O
2:10
Bill Symonds: 
Thanks for your question, Jennifer. I think we need a change in culture that would encourage more employers to support work-based learning, etc. However, I also advocate tax incentives to encourage employers. After all, we provide tax incentives for investments -- why not for investments in people?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:10 Bill Symonds
2:10
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ok, Here's a question for Ron to following up on the tracking.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:10 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:10
[Comment From CynthiaCynthia: ] 
Critics say you are advocating "tracking". Is that interpretation accurate?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:10 Cynthia
2:11
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
And now here's one for Bill.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:11 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:11
[Comment From LLWLLW: ] 
There are no "standardized" test to measure responsibility, trustworthiness, integrity, teamwork, and other character elements that are essential in the 21st century workplace. How can we get the educrats to put more emphasis on those elements as compared to a proficiency test?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:11 LLW
2:11
Ron Wolk: 
Far from it. The choice is left to the student who may choose among several paths, the one he or she deems most in line with interest and aspiration.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:11 Ron Wolk
2:12
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, I know your response gets very much to the heart of what you've been writing about lately: personalized education.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:12 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:13
Bill Symonds: 
LLW -- Thanks for your question. First, I think we need to change the way we measure education. The bottom line measure is whether we are truly preparing youth to be successful adults. As for these character traits -- those reallyl can't be measured by a "bubble" test. However, such assessments are certainly critical.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:13 Bill Symonds
2:13
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, we've had an interesting discussion around the practical issues of what we should be gearing young people for. You've mentioned that many career options, which aren't really on the horizon yet, need to be. Here's an interesting question from a reader on this topic.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:13 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:13
[Comment From JulieJulie: ] 
Will corporations engage in this process of supporting partnerships or will entrepreneurs lead this segment of innovation as well?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:13 Julie
2:13
Ron Wolk: 
Yes. For multiple pathways to be meaningful, other changes must be made to the system and personalization is chief among them. We also need authontic performance assessment, real world learning and more reesponsibility for students.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:13 Ron Wolk
2:14
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, here's something I'd love you to address.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:14 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:14
[Comment From michelleMmichelleM: ] 
Wanted to get your views on learning outside class, learning in (study) groups - and how this can compliment the work done within the classrooms?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:14 michelleM
2:14
Bill Symonds: 
Julie, I certainly hope that many more corporations will become engaged in this work. After all, thier future workforce depends on it. But I agree that entrepreneurs will play an important role as well.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:14 Bill Symonds
2:15
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, can you share a couple of career opportunities you mentioned to me that the education sector probably hasn't even thought about--in particular, i'm thinking about the discussion we had around health care providers and the baby boomers.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:15 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:15
Ron Wolk: 
I'm not sure about study groups, but learning in the real world is very important. Socrates said we learn what we must do by first doing. We need to get out of the classroom and put kids in a context that makes learning real.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:15 Ron Wolk
2:15
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, what about common standards. HOw does this fit in. Here's an interesting question from a reader on this:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:15 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:16
[Comment From Jennifer OJennifer O: ] 
There has been a lot of talk about common core standards lately. How do pathways fit into this? Could we develop standards for so-called soft skills?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:16 Jennifer O
2:16
Bill Symonds: 
Elizabeth,
Certainly. These days we hear a lot about preparing young people for STEM careers. I agree this is important. however, we are also going to see a real explosion in the need for long-term care, as the number of older Americans increases. But right now, we are not doing a good job of preparing young people for this vital career area.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:16 Bill Symonds
2:16
Creating pathway opportunities is something districts cannot afford right now given the noose around finances.
True
 ( 12% )
False
 ( 88% )

Monday March 21, 2011 2:16 
2:17
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ah, someone from California is writing about this:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:17 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:17
Ron Wolk: 
I think content standards lead to standardization and are not viable in a system that is personalized and offers pathways. All schools need standards but they should be in the context of a particular pathway. And we can have standards for "soft skills" if you mean habits of mind and behavior.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:17 Ron Wolk
2:18
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
SOrry, back to the Californian
Monday March 21, 2011 2:18 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:18
[Comment From Teri BTeri B: ] 
Elizabeth, I assure you we in California have been thinking about healthcare professions for a while. We have some great career academies and pathways programs in the health professions, including elder care focus.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:18 Teri B
2:18
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, how about this one:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:18 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:18
[Comment From LindsayLindsay: ] 
First-generation college students have to work extra hard to get into -- and stay in -- college. I worry that if we start to tell students that college isn't critical, then those students who could benefit the most from college won't even try. What do you think?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:18 Lindsay
2:18
Bill Symonds: 
Teri,
I agree. Linked Learning is doing a great job. One point we make is that these islands of excellence now need to be scaled up.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:18 Bill Symonds
2:19
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, back to you on student choice
Monday March 21, 2011 2:19 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:19
[Comment From LBLB: ] 
I agree with the theory of allowing more student choice in pathways, aligned "with interest and aspiration" (quoting Ron). However, research shows that aspirations correlate with SES and/or race (depending on study), many times because of what is even conceived to be possible by youth, what they are told is possible by mentors, parents, and the community, etc. So how can we separate interest and aspiration from the sociocultural influences?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:19 LB
2:19
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, here's a question on everyone's minds about CTE:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:19 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:19
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Do you believe that districts will be able to reorganize and retool sufficiently to address the needs of students for quality CTE programs? And what do you see as the role of partner organizations like Regional Occupational Programs (ROC/Ps) in the Pathways model?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:19 Guest
2:19
Bill Symonds: 
Lindsay,
We certainly believe that a four-year college is THE best route for some students. It just isn't the best route for ALL students. The key to a successful pathways system is to help students figure out what route is best for them.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:19 Bill Symonds
2:20
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
BIll, can you follow up on this one from a parent:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:20 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:20
[Comment From Jean WestonJean Weston: ] 
I'm feeling that the way we have set up education in a linear track is archaic. I know my daughter is very intelligent, but at 13 she is more interested in make-up and cooking than science and English (although she does well - but it's not her 'emphasis' at this point in her life) So I'd like to see our education system embrace the 'life-time' learner and stop focusing on the 'college-track' for our teens. Maybe the best learning could be a vocational school with college to follow at age 25 or 30. It just seems we are 'dumbing-down' humanity by emphasizing a certain 'way' to progress. The important this is to continue to progress - not when. Could you comment on this?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:20 Jean Weston
2:21
Ron Wolk: 
I know of a number of schools that do just that, including the Met in Providence. We let young people shape their own curriculum with the aid of mentors and parents and find their"passion."
Monday March 21, 2011 2:21 Ron Wolk
2:21
Bill Symonds: 
Responding to the question about CTE:
We think we will need statewide efforts -- and even national efforts -- to effectively scale up high-quality programs.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:21 Bill Symonds
2:21
Is your school/district taking steps toward pathways now?
Yes
 ( 57% )
No
 ( 43% )

Monday March 21, 2011 2:21 
2:22
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, how about another one from California?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:22 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:22
[Comment From Gregg SinnerGregg Sinner: ] 
We seem to be creating conditions for the emergence of multiple pathways for learning and schooling. Good for us, but some coherence is essential. Gateways such as credits, promotion and credentialing; e.g., the high school diploma (or a 21st century equivalent) must be based on personalized assessment – if it is being preceded by personalized learning and teaching. NH abandoning the Carnegie Unit and seeking to develop other assessment strategies for credit is but one example. Personalized assessments demand standards of learning and habits of mind that can be assessed with some coherence; e.g., using moderated rubrics. How do you envision this working as scale? Finally, do you think Jerry Brown, Governor of California is right when he said, "We have to have continuity along with change if we’re going to hold the place together?” If so, talk a little bit about how we might provide leadership for continuity in learning and schooling. Thanks.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:22 Gregg Sinner
2:22
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, here's one that you addressed directly in your book. Perhaps you could shed some light on this issue:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:22 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:22
[Comment From rmdoddrmdodd: ] 
How do we move from Stand and Deliver institutions to institutions of co-operative learning.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:22 rmdodd
2:22
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
How does scripted curriculum fit in to all of this....as many schools adhere to it which I feel is a disservice, and anti 21st-centruy but it is promoted by NCLB/ Reading First.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:22 Guest
2:23
[Comment From CynthiaCynthia: ] 
What are the incentives to give school superintendents and other decision makers the courage to embrace pathways?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:23 Cynthia
2:23
[Comment From Gregg SinnerGregg Sinner: ] 
Can someone talk about "credentialing" learning aka personalizing assessment for credit, please?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:23 Gregg Sinner
2:23
Bill Symonds: 
Jean,
Often, students learn the most when they are truly engaged by a subject. and in fact, a good course on "cooking" could lead to study of nutrition, why people eat what they do, etc. Done right, it could be quite rigorous.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:23 Bill Symonds
2:23
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Woops, sorry about that!
Monday March 21, 2011 2:23 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:23
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
i accidentally published those questions instead of feeding them. Hold on and i'll get it fixed.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:23 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:24
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, can you scroll back and get to the one about school supes? thanks.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:24 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:24
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
it was from Cynthia.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:24 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:24
Ron Wolk: 
the stand and deliver method doesn't work in a personalized, real world environment. We change the present by giving kids more responsibiltiiy for their own education and changing the role of teachers from lecturers to advisors. And kids and teachers learn together.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:24 Ron Wolk
2:24
Bill Symonds: 
Gregg,

I agree that we do need continuity, and that we do need to insure students are receiving a quality education. But let's not forget that right now millions of our students are not getting a good education, and instead ending up as dropouts.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:24 Bill Symonds
2:24
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, can you scroll back and take the one from Greg on Credentialiing?
sorry about that over eager finger of mine!
Monday March 21, 2011 2:24 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:25
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Looks like it's pretty clear that almost everyone agrees that money is not standing in the way of implementing pathways.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:25 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:25
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
how can ensure 21st century learning doesn't just turn in to textbook, standardized tests, drill and kill, one size fits all?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:25 Guest
2:25
[Comment From Teri BTeri B: ] 
Bill, your example to Jean is right on, but what about the credentialling issue - especially under NCLB / Highly qualified teacher rules?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:25 Teri B
2:26
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, can you take the one about 21st century learning. THanks.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:26 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:27
Ron Wolk: 
I'm not sure I understand the question. School should be about learning not credentialing. and assessment by teachers and students of student work is as credible or more so that standardized testing.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:27 Ron Wolk
2:27
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, you've talked about when pathways should be introduced. Some folks think students can be too young to make a choice. Here's a question from someone on that.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:27 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:27
[Comment From Teri BurnsTeri Burns: ] 
How many freshman-aged teens knwo what they want to do for a career?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:27 Teri Burns
2:29
Bill Symonds: 
Cynthia,
We need a real effort to talk with school superintendents and to change their mindset. Once they truly understand the challenge,I am hopeful more will work with us to creatge good pathways.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:29 Bill Symonds
2:29
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
It's interesting that slightly over half of our readers are in districts where they are implementing pathways already, at least according to the poll.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:29 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:29
Ron Wolk: 
Ten, how many adults know what teenagers want. We greatly underestimate kids.And they know it and respond in kind. I've seen many examples of teenagers who know what they want and are willing to work hard to get it.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:29 Ron Wolk
2:29
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, do you have a sense that they are open to these ideas? if you get pushback from them what is it?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:29 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:30
Bill Symonds: 
Responding to the question about 21st century learning:
Many 21st century skills can't really be taught this way. Can you measure creativity with a multiple choice test? I don't think so. The problem we ahve now is that many of these skills are not tuaght.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:30 Bill Symonds
2:30
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Yes, Ron, that sounds a bit like the NYT op-ed you mentioned to me the other day aby Susan Engel. She wrote about a school where students took over their curriculum. Impressive. (We'll post it after the chat.)
Monday March 21, 2011 2:30 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:31
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, can you take this one
Monday March 21, 2011 2:31 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:31
[Comment From Rick GRick G: ] 
One of the primary challenges for lower SES and 1st generation students is a relative lack of familiarity and comfort dealing with bureaucracy. How would a pathway approach handle the issue of adding in another layer of complexity?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:31 Rick G
2:31
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, here's one for you
Monday March 21, 2011 2:31 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:31
[Comment From Scott P.Scott P.: ] 
Even if we can get the education system to evolve, how do we get the parents who were educated in our current "industrial model" to buy in to our "21st century" education system for their children? i.e. "It doesn't look like it did when I went to school, and I turned out just fine."
Monday March 21, 2011 2:31 Scott P.
2:31
Bill Symonds: 
Elizabeth,
The feedback we've gotten indicates that certainly many people are interested in creating better pathways. But right now, the pressures of tryinkg to meet current rules and requirements often make that very difficult.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:31 Bill Symonds
2:32
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Yes, we hear this from every corner of the country. So how can we move the ball down the court? And i know that's the $64 million question.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:32 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:32
Bill Symonds: 
Rick,
A true pathways approach would allow students to work in real work environments. In the process, they wold certainly learn about bureaucracy.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:32 Bill Symonds
2:32
Ron Wolk: 
Elizabeth: In Darien Conn. students actually run the city's only ambulance service on their own.

Scott, that is a real challenge. But if the kids are happy and productive they will bring the parents along, I believe.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:32 Ron Wolk
2:33
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
(Bill, that last comment i sent was for you>)
Monday March 21, 2011 2:33 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:33
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Yes, Ron. It does seem that we don't give our students enough credit.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:33 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:33
Bill Symonds: 
Elizabeth,
We are advocating statewide efforts to advance a pathways approach. Also,this will require collaborations between business, education and political leaders who see the need for action.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:33 Bill Symonds
2:33
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, here's one for you.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:33 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:33
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
I am finding that changes in schools must occur in the classroom. No matter what a Superintend wants, it does not matter without the buyin of the classroom teacher. So, in my work, I find a need to convince our teachers that changing the teaching and learning practice to PBL or other engagement strategies that include higher levels of rigor will not result in poorer student standardized test scores. Any comment on how to integrate the two areas and help educators be receptive to where we are going with 21st century skills?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:33 Guest
2:34
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, here you go:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:34 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:34
[Comment From John BennettJohn Bennett: ] 
Shouldn't pathways be what students want to explore (real world but maybe not even a specific career) rather than what they want for a career? Is so, can't that reach pathways down pretty early in school?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:34 John Bennett
2:34
edweekbryan: 
Folks, here's the NYT op-ed by Susan Engel that Elizabeth mentioned (at 2:30) about when kids run their own curriculum: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/opinion/15engel.html
Monday March 21, 2011 2:34 edweekbryan
2:35
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Thanks, Bryan!
Monday March 21, 2011 2:35 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:35
Do you feel you have the support you need from the district/community to implement pathways?
Yes
 ( 22% )
No
 ( 78% )

Monday March 21, 2011 2:35 
2:35
Bill Symonds: 
John,

In his book, Ron makes the point that we should expect elementarty students to meet certain standards. All should learn to read well, and to master the basics of math. But I think you could effectively begin to implement a pathways approach in middle school.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:35 Bill Symonds
2:35
[Comment From Gregg SinnerGregg Sinner: ] 
Love that Engel column in the Times!
Monday March 21, 2011 2:35 Gregg Sinner
2:36
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:36 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:36
Ron Wolk: 
Guest, great dilemma. Teachers are caught between raising scores and education kids. I think they need to be convinced that they should do the latter whateveer the risk. And I think they want to. Meanwhile, we have to convince the woodheads who push standardization to cut them some slack.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:36 Ron Wolk
2:36
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Sorry, Bill here you go:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:36 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:36
[Comment From WilWil: ] 
O.K., so college isn't for everyone. So much emphasis has been placed on a college degree, it has become more of a status symbol than ever. It would seem that not attending college just isn't an option anymore. So who gets to tell the students who should go to college and who shouldn't? Their teachers, their counselors, or ???
Monday March 21, 2011 2:36 Wil
2:37
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, following up on that--from a teacher's point of view (and i don't know if this person is a teacher, but it's another big question):
Monday March 21, 2011 2:37 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:37
[Comment From John BennettJohn Bennett: ] 
How can we get students to engage rather than only receive?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:37 John Bennett
2:37
Bill Symonds: 
Wil,
Good question. My view is that the students themselves need to make this decision, with help and guidance from adults, including parents and counselors. We don't believe that a "higher authority" should tell a student what he shoudl do for a living.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:37 Bill Symonds
2:38
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, here's one on accountability
Monday March 21, 2011 2:38 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:38
[Comment From ElliotElliot: ] 
Under a pathways style system, how and to what extent do we hold schools accountable?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:38 Elliot
2:38
Ron Wolk: 
John, as I've said, we've got to meet them on their ground, instead of insisting the student aways adapt to the school, the school needs to adapt to the student. Kids will engage when they are interested and believe their is value to them in engaging. When they aren't interested you're moistly wasting their time and yours.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:38 Ron Wolk
2:39
Bill Symonds: 
Elliot,
Ultimately, I think schools should be measured on how their students do after they leave -- in completing degrees, finding jobs, etc. That will require a greater emphasis on longitudinal measurement, which we do poorly right now.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:39 Bill Symonds
2:39
Could pathways raise the high school graduation rate?
Yes
 ( 100% )
No
 ( 0% )

Monday March 21, 2011 2:39 
2:40
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, here's one:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:40 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:40
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Algebra I and/or II is(are) considered the gatekeeper for college success. But they are also keepers of the gate swinging the other way - students dropping out of high school in frustration. What is the necessary mathematics knowledge for success in the 21st century?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:40 Guest
2:40
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, here's one on parents--similar to working with supes...
Monday March 21, 2011 2:40 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:40
[Comment From Lorraine RichardsonLorraine Richardson: ] 
Scott, I agree. How do we "reform" parents?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:40 Lorraine Richardson
2:41
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Interesting.100 percent of you believe that pathways could raise graduation rates.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:41 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:41
Bill Symonds: 
Lorraine,
This is a huge issue. Unfortunately, given the fact that so many students come from "complicated" family situations, it is getting harder all the time. I don't have a silver bullet.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:41 Bill Symonds
2:41
Ron Wolk: 
Guest, I believe all kids should learn basic math and do so in the elementary years. After that their interest should guide them. I took two years of algebra, solid and plane geometry and trig. learned little and don't know a cosine from a stop sign today.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:41 Ron Wolk
2:42
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Haha, Ron. Hate to say it, but I'm with you. But I regret it! I've even thought of taking a math for adults course.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:42 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:42
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Here are question directed to each of you. Ron, you first:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:42 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:42
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Ron, I appreciate that we need to convince the woodheads to change their focus on testing, but in the meantime, we need to work to move the agenda with teachers to look at the skills and alter their own delivery. If we wait for the politics to change things, it will be too long. Teachers are and can make changes without the politicians driving the change. We just need to convince the teachers that the changes are for the better of the kids and the society. Do you know of anyone who has created a good sales job for reaching teachers? We all need to learn from each other and not wait for the woodheads!
Monday March 21, 2011 2:42 Guest
2:42
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, for you
Monday March 21, 2011 2:42 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:42
[Comment From Teri BTeri B: ] 
Bill, you have to be careful about measuring the "finding jobs" if you're talking about jobs in the pathway field. Some kids get out of pathways and get great jobs in a completely different area. I would count that a success, but not everyone would.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:42 Teri B
2:43
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
interesting comment from a parent:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:43 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:43
[Comment From guestguest: ] 
Comment to support student choice and PBL... my marginally engaged 5th grader got so excited about a Civil War simulation they were doing in class that he proudly announced that he now knows what he wants to do with his life - research, develop and make presentations. He wants to know what to major in in college to make this a reality.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:43 guest
2:43
Bill Symonds: 
Teri,
Good point. We also need to recognize that student interests change over time. My view is that if a student winds up in a job that he/she finds meaningful, and remunerative, that is a success.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:43 Bill Symonds
2:44
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Here's a comment from a math teacher...
Monday March 21, 2011 2:44 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:44
Ron Wolk: 
guest. simple answer is that I don't know of anyone who has done that. I know that in schools i've visited, teachers are honored and supported and work together very successfully. Google New Country School in Mn.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:44 Ron Wolk
2:44
[Comment From BobBob: ] 
As a 37 year veteran h.s. math teacher, I think three years of math for graduation as in Illinois is reasonable. Certainly four years for college, math related fields.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:44 Bob
2:44
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, do you want to address this one about the movement to k-16?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:44 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:44
[Comment From Scott P.Scott P.: ] 
I hear the argument from our more traditional staff members that this focus on contextual learning, pathways, 21st century skills, etc. is hamstringing our students for college because college is still stand and deliver. Is there any movement to make this a K-16 educational shift?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:44 Scott P.
2:45
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:45 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:45
[Comment From kristankristan: ] 
i still don't agree that college or postsecondary options aren't for everyone, and i don't think that students and parents are always empowered to know what their options are. what happens if a student decides that they need to change their path?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:45 kristan
2:45
Bill Symonds: 
Scott,
I agree that many colleges still deliver instruction in very traditional ways. But we contend that the pathways movement certainly needs to include higher education, even including "elite" four-year colleges. Right now, many of them don't do a good job of helping students figure out what they actually want to do with their education.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:45 Bill Symonds
2:46
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Here's sort of a follow up to that, Bill
Monday March 21, 2011 2:46 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:46
[Comment From Joanne JacobsJoanne Jacobs: ] 
Many believe there is no difference between career prep and college prep. Is this really true? if so, what hope is there for D and F students?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:46 Joanne Jacobs
2:47
Ron Wolk: 
Kristan, Neither Bill nor I say postsecondary options aren't desirable. And I believe students should be free to change baths if the embark on one and find it leading them in the wrong direction.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:47 Ron Wolk
2:47
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, I know you support early investigation of pathways for students. CAn you take this one
Monday March 21, 2011 2:47 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:47
[Comment From ChrisChris: ] 
What about the role of testing at the middle level in determining high school students' pathway?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:47 Chris
2:48
Bill Symonds: 
Joanne,

I think there ARE differences between career prep and cllege prep. Career counseling is vital if you want to find a meaningful career, but is irrelevant for college prep. As for D and F students:Keep in mind that Winston Churchil was todl he was a "dunce" by his teachers. Look where he ended up. We need to find ways to help D and F students become engaged with learning and to disover pathways in which they can succeed.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:48 Bill Symonds
2:48
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Yes, and how many entrepreneurs dropped out of high school, dare I ask?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:48 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:48
Ron Wolk: 
Depends on the kind of testing to some degree. Generally I would rather rely on student's own inclinations and evaluations by the teacher.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:48 Ron Wolk
2:48
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, you'll appreciate this:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:48 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:49
[Comment From Patricia TormeyPatricia Tormey: ] 
This is an excellent report that is hopefully reaching audiences that still don't know the value of CTE for keeping students in high school who are struggling to find a meaningful connection to the real world.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:49 Patricia Tormey
2:49
Bill Symonds: 
Elizabeth,

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs BOTH dropped out of college. Today, they are considered two of hte top business leaders in the world.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:49 Bill Symonds
2:49
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:49 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:49
[Comment From Teri BurnsTeri Burns: ] 
It seems that the senior year of high school is only working for a small share of students. Either they don't need it and just do the social piece or they drop out, or they really need more time and often can't finish all they need to do to remediate. Can't we move to a more flexible high school timeline?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:49 Teri Burns
2:49
Bill Symonds: 
Patricia,

Thanks. We ahve a lot of work to do to get this message to a broad audience. I hope you can help.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:49 Bill Symonds
2:49
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Yes, Bill, I know. Hmmm....
Monday March 21, 2011 2:49 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:50
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:50 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:50
[Comment From Lorraine RichardsonLorraine Richardson: ] 
Bill, you talk about including colleges in the reform. I've found that high school teachers and college instructors are content specific. They both believe that scholarship and dedication are enough. How do we change their belief systems?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:50 Lorraine Richardson
2:50
How can we change attitudes about pathways?
Enforce them
 ( 3% )
Talk about their importance
 ( 45% )
Both
 ( 52% )

Monday March 21, 2011 2:50 
2:51
Bill Symonds: 
Lorraine,
I guess we need to convince them that they have a broader responsibility. Sure, maybe a few students will become scholars. But most will move on to other careers.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:51 Bill Symonds
2:52
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, according to our poll (not very scientific, i know) half of those polled say that more discussion, rather than enforcement is needed to implement pathways. Your thoughts?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:52 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:53
Bill Symonds: 
Elizabeth,

More discussion is the first and logical step. i'mnot sure how "enforcement" would work. "Encouragement" might be a better word at this point.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:53 Bill Symonds
2:53
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
I guess i meant policy changes.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:53 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:53
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, here's a great question that there really needs more focus:
Monday March 21, 2011 2:53 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:53
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
What do guidance counselors need to advance Pathway efforts?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:53 Guest
2:54
Bill Symonds: 
Elizabeth,

Yes, we will need policy changes to encourage robust pathways. policy shoudl certainly encourage career counseling, for instance, as well as development of high-quality CTE.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:54 Bill Symonds
2:54
are your guidance counselors prepared to talk to students about their options?
Yes
 ( 17% )
No
 ( 83% )

Monday March 21, 2011 2:54 
2:54
Bill Symonds: 
Guest,
My view is that given today's budget restraints, guidance counselors will need a lot of help from employers to adequate advise students on careers.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:54 Bill Symonds
2:55
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Looks like most feel their counselors are not prepared. Any thoughts on an action plan for that, Bill?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:55 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:55
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Ron, are you there?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:55 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:56
Ron Wolk: 
yeah.

I need to make a point: schools (nor colleges) should be about preparing people for jobs. they should prepare them for life, and that means, in part, preparing them for work by teaching them basics helping them learn to communicate, think and solve problems, work with others, etc.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:56 Ron Wolk
2:56
Bill Symonds: 
Elizabeth,
There are a growing number of online resources that canprovide good information. And, as I've said, we need to engage employers in this effort.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:56 Bill Symonds
2:56
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Have either of you seen this? thoughts?
Monday March 21, 2011 2:56 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:56
[Comment From John BennettJohn Bennett: ] 
Have you seen the commentary about the approach to education championed by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs blogged recently? They are really different!
Monday March 21, 2011 2:56 John Bennett
2:57
Ron Wolk: 
i haven't.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:57 Ron Wolk
2:57
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Here's a thought from one reader.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:57 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:57
[Comment From CynthiaCynthia: ] 
Remember folks, high quality CTE can lead to college.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:57 Cynthia
2:57
Bill Symonds: 
Cynthia,

Not only can CTE lead to college, it often does.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:57 Bill Symonds
2:57
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
And another that backs up the hardship in getting folks to rethink their approach to engaging students on this issue.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:57 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:57
[Comment From Margaret SmallMargaret Small: ] 
We are trying to get counselors to think about the 4th year math course now required in North Carolina but they seem to be guided by the historical institutional practices
Monday March 21, 2011 2:57 Margaret Small
2:58
Ron Wolk: 
I see all the time how high quality CTE can succeed. Indeed, most of the kids who graduate from the Met and Big Picture Schools go onto college and postsecondary programs.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:58 Ron Wolk
2:58
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Here's a comment from a reader about a model that they said is working in Nashville
Monday March 21, 2011 2:58 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:58
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
I would recommend that anyone who hasn't visited or read about the work going on in Nashville, should do so. The model of the CEO Champions is really unique and valuable in moving a community to change their thinking about how to educate kids. Check out "Alignment Nashville" on the web. Or better yet, go visit the Nashville school system.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:58 Guest
2:58
Bill Symonds: 
Margaret,
My view is that requiringa 4th year of math won't solve the pathways challenge. We need to do a lot more to help students figure out where they weant to go.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:58 Bill Symonds
2:59
Ron Wolk: 
here here
Monday March 21, 2011 2:59 Ron Wolk
2:59
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
We're getting close to the hour. Bill and Ron, you've been wonderful guests.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:59 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:59
Ron Wolk: 
or is it Hear Hear
Monday March 21, 2011 2:59 Ron Wolk
2:59
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
You might have set the record for most questions answered in a live chat, ever.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:59 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
2:59
Bill Symonds: 
Elizabeth,
I guess that's what I get for taking typing in high school!
Monday March 21, 2011 2:59 Bill Symonds
2:59
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
In closing, i'ld like to offer each of you an opportunity for a few last words.
Monday March 21, 2011 2:59 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
3:00
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Bill, how right you are! I never thought I'd say it, but it's been a great help to me, too.
Monday March 21, 2011 3:00 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
3:00
Ron Wolk: 
read Wasting Minds: Why our education system is failing and what we can do about it.
Monday March 21, 2011 3:00 Ron Wolk
3:00
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
In other words, read it!
Monday March 21, 2011 3:00 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
3:01
Bill Symonds: 
I'd like to thank everyone for their interest. I hope we can work together to move this agenda forward.
Monday March 21, 2011 3:01 Bill Symonds
3:01
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
It's a great read, as is the Pathways report. Both offer concrete solutions to real-world problems that we are facing in our schools today.
Monday March 21, 2011 3:01 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
3:01
edweekbryan: 
Thanks again to our guests for participating, Elizabeth for moderating, and to all of you who joined us this past hour! We'll have a transcript available shortly on edweek.org. Cheers, folks.

PS: Don't forget, we have two more live chats coming up on Thursday of this week. At 2pm EDT on Thursday, we'll be joined by three guests to discuss response to intervention; and at 3pm EDT, we'll chat about our newest issue of Technology Counts, which just came out last week. Be sure to join us then!
Monday March 21, 2011 3:01 edweekbryan
3:02
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
Thank you both for your time and thank you to our readers for their excellent questions. Look for more on this topic coming from the pages of our newspaper and online.
Monday March 21, 2011 3:02 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
3:02
Moderator Elizabeth Rich: 
And thank you, Bryan.
Monday March 21, 2011 3:02 Moderator Elizabeth Rich
3:13
edweekbryan: 
FYI, folks, a few more links for you... here's the NYT's commentary about the education approaches of Steve Jobs/Bill Gates: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/03/20/career-counselor-bill-gates-or-steve-jobs/rival-philosophies-both-compelling
Monday March 21, 2011 3:13 edweekbryan
3:14
edweekbryan: 
And here's a commentary about standards-based accountability that Ron wrote for EdWeek, which was published in early March: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/03/09/23wolk_ep.h30.html
Monday March 21, 2011 3:14 edweekbryan
3:14
edweekbryan: 
Thanks again to all for joining us! We'll have a transcript of the event posted soon on edweek.org.
Monday March 21, 2011 3:14 edweekbryan
3:14
 

 
 
 

Pathways: Preparing Students for Success in the 21st Century

Monday, March 21, 2 p.m. Eastern time

Since its recent release, the report “Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century” has stirred interest and debate, particularly around whether college is the answer for every student. How can we create a broader and more holistic approach to career and college pathways for young people? What steps should the U.S. education system be taking to create healthier expectations for students once they leave school?

William C. Symonds, director of the Pathways to Prosperity Project, and Ronald A. Wolk, the founding editor of Education Week, joined us for a lively discussion on preparing students for success beyond school.

Related Story:

Guests:
Ronald A. Wolk, founder and former editor of Education Week, chairman of Big Picture Learning, and author of Wasting Minds: Why Our Education System Is Failing and What We Can Do About It (ASCD, 2011).

William C. Symonds, director of the Pathways to Prosperity Project, based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and former chief education correspondent, Business Week.

Elizabeth Rich, Commentary editor, Education Week, moderated this chat.


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