Understanding Each Child, Our Future: Implementation and Series Conclusion
Each Child, Our Future is Ohio’s five-year strategic plan to ensure each student enjoys a bright future thanks to an excellent preK-12 education experience. More than 150 Ohio-based partners helped develop Each Child, Our Future, along with feedback from 1,200 Ohio parents, caregivers, preK-12 and postsecondary educators, employers, business leaders, community members, state legislators and students.
The plan is the first step in a journey. The real work, and the biggest challenge, is to follow through with meaningful implementation. You can learn more about implementation on pages 25 and 26 of the plan, which appears in its entirety here.
The same principles that guided the development of Each Child, Our Future will steer implementation, and Ohio Department of Education leaders commit to the following principles:
- Use a partnership-based approach. Implementation is stronger when carried out collaboratively by stakeholders. The State Board and Department employed a partnership-based approach to develop Each Child, Our Future, and it proved an effective way to garner stakeholder investment. Going forward, the Department will continue to convene partners — including parents, caregivers, students, educators, higher education representatives, business and philanthropic leaders, state legislators and others — to collectively develop action plans aimed at implementing the plan components, especially the 10 strategies. When possible, these action plans will build on work already underway.
- Emphasize support services more than compliance. This strategic plan presents an exciting opportunity to reshape the work of the Ohio Department of Education. The plan is leading to some agency restructuring to help the Department provide the best possible supports to schools, districts and educators so they are best positioned to challenge, prepare and empower each child in Ohio. The objective is to align efforts across the agency in a way that supports schools, districts and educators for success. Of course, there are still important, compliance-related obligations the Department must meet, but those will not be the driving focus of the agency.
- Use data to inform improvement. The Department will pursue data sources and data-sharing agreements to establish a baseline for the plan’s stated goal. In addition, new data collection may be needed. The Department will be cautious when considering new data collection sources and methods to avoid adding unnecessary burdens and protect student privacy. The Department will work closely with other state agencies and national data organizations to identify appropriate data sources. It also will establish intermediate progress indicators that gauge how well the education system and students are on track to meet the goal. Ideally, Ohio would have interim measures at various points in a student’s education career that show progress and accomplishment. In some cases, the state can rely on traditional proficiency measures in certain content areas, but these measures are not sufficient in terms of what this plan promotes. At the same time, leaders recognize it will take time to fully develop meaningful metrics that speak to all the plan’s dimensions, especially the four equal learning domains.
- Acknowledge that one size does not fit all. This plan is not a mandate. Its intent is to inspire and inform discussions about what is happening in schools each day. Planners designed it to support continuous improvement. It is meant to bring schools and districts together to address shared needs and challenges and identify multiple approaches to achieving excellence. This plan embraces the idea that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to educating children.
- Engage key state-level partners. The State Board of Education and Ohio Department of Education will continue to work with the governor, state legislature, key policy influencers and other stakeholders.
- Understand that success relies on leadership of local schools and districts. Just as the State Board and Department committed to these implementation principles, local school leaders and educators should ask themselves the following questions as they consider how this plan might influence their work.
- Are we working in our community to explore ways to increase access to quality early childhood experiences? Do we have strong relationships with early childhood providers whose students will be in our classrooms?
- Have we addressed issues of teacher excellence including recruitment, induction, feedback, professional development and retention?
- Have we addressed issues of academic rigor, quality instructional practices, excellent curriculum and the four equal learning domains?
- Have we addressed challenges we may face with school climate and culture?
- Have we developed effective partnerships with the broad range of partners who could support student success?
- Do we have a clear understanding of what we are striving for — and, if not, where can we go to see it?
- Have we thought about and developed our own continuous improvement action plan for addressing areas described in this plan? Are we committed to the plan and working to implement it? Are we analyzing data to guide us in identifying underperformance and its causes?
What every school and district chooses to do will look different. For best results, schools and districts should not focus on everything all at once. They can start with any number of elements. The only choice that is not valid is the choice to do nothing. The State Board and Department are committed to being strong and supportive partners to each district, so we can continue our journey to achieve the vision of ensuring each child is successful and be ready to create bright futures for our communities, our state and our nation.