In partnership with America's Promise, Ray McNulty, Chairman, Penn Foster High School Board, participated in a panel Penn Foster co-hosted to address the nation's state of high school graduation. Ray also serves as the Dean of Education for Southern New Hampshire University, Senior Fellow, International Leadership and Education and Chairman, National Dropout Prevention Network. The group panel discussion, hosted via Google+ hangout, aimed to detail success metrics for raising the nation's graduation rate. Below, McNulty shares his professional take on the matters discussed.
1) How do we get the system to move away from deficit thinking that focuses on the negatives experiences of students?
First, we need to give students more of a voice in their education and begin to value that voice as much as we value test results. Students need to know they have a part in their education and it is not just done to them.
The second thing we need to do is see the dropout challenge as a systemic problem and not just a problem with the student not fitting in.
2) How can we open communication within the schools – Teachers want to support students in the schools, but sometimes confidentiality gets in the way.
One of the keys here is that we need to keep teachers longer with students. What I mean by this is that we move kids and teachers all the time. A high school student will generally have four English teachers! Why? We know that when teachers and students have multiple years together they establish a great relationship. We see this most with coaches, club leadership etc. adults get to know students on a deeper level and great communication begins to flourish. Confidentiality disappears when strong relationships are built.
3) How do you go from a culture of failure, where people don’t believe they can succeed, and believe the school doesn’t think they can succeed, how can you turn it into a culture of success?
The research here is very clear and I favor the work of Carol Dweck and her book, Mindset. We need to change how we think about intelligence and talk about intelligence and success in our schools. The message is clear, hard work pays off and it is not about some innate skill or intelligence someone has. When students do well we should thank them for their effort… a student isn’t good at math or English. Those that succeed have worked hard and we need to send that message to the students and faculty each and every day.
Watch the original discussion.
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