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Declaring a District Mandate

“When change on the inside is slower than change on the outside, the end is near.” (Dr. Lisa Williams)

Overview

Challenge: How to demonstrate commitment for change across the system.

Action Steps: A number of districts, including Middletown, NY, Fulton County, GA, Henry County, GA, and Baltimore County, MD, chose to publicly declare that all schools (or all teachers) in the district will eventually be expected to integrate into a personalized learning pathway by a certain date.

Ken Eastwood, former superintendent in Middletown Public Schools, set a teacher-focused mandate, making implementation voluntary for the first two years and offering teachers incentives to participate. He also removed the pressure of certain evaluations for those two years. By year three, teachers who had not volunteered were required to engage in targeted professional development.

In Fulton County, schools were asked to slot themselves into one of five cohorts of schools that would roll out blended learning implementation over a two-year period.

Dr. Lisa Williams in Baltimore County explains that declaring a mandate is also about making a commitment to student equity of opportunity. “The idea of personalizing without talking about equity seems antithetical to the whole point,” she said. “I often hear people talk about using technology without looking at the root causes of why it’s important. That’s something you have to mandate at a system level.”

Additional Example: