Spotlight

Who are Western benchmarkers?

Two more questions and answers, starting with one the superintendents of the Western States Benchmarking Group frequently are asked:

Q: How do seven superintendents ever agree on the consortium's priorities?
This hasn't been a problem. With student learning as the driving reason for the consortium's existence, WSBC member superintendents focus their time together on the core of any district's work: success for every student.

Over the years our discussions have examined student success from different starting points. In the recent past a task group worked on the instructional approaches and interventions that would support less-successful secondary school readers. And currently a task group is focused on what it will take to ensure algebra success for all — believing this is a key element for expanding post-secondary choices.

We have restructured and invigorated the questions of college readiness by inverting the traditional K-12 language to a more provocative "16-K" mindset. This working-backwards, starting-with-the-end-in-mind phrasing has had the net effect of disrupting traditional thinking and answers to the questions of whom we should be preparing for college.

The most current WSBC superintendent collective priority is having the effect of challenging member districts to gather, organize, analyze and apply data in ways that will allow both predictive modeling of individual success and personalized guidance for future instruction.

Like districts across the United States, WSBC member districts are working along a continuum of information utilization — from data access to data management to achievement reporting to forecasting to predictive modeling and eventually to a level of personalization that is real-time and unique to the learning needs of each individual student.

No one is there yet, but by identifying the key performance indicators that may be drawn from curriculum management, instructional management, assessment, human resources and teacher certification and financial/budgeting systems, the goal is to apply and align every conceivable district resource to ensuring growth and success for every student.

Q: And, finally, who are the Western States Benchmarking Consortium member districts and superintendents?
Blue Valley Unified School District, Overland Park, Kan., Tom Trigg, superintendent; Cherry Creek School District, Greenwood Village, Colo., Monte Moses, superintendent; Lake Washington School District, Redmond, Wash., Don Saul, superintendent; Peoria Unified School District, Peoria, Ariz., Jack Erb, superintendent;

Also, Plano Independent School District, Plano, Texas, Doug Otto, superintendent; Poway Unified School District, Poway, Calif., Don Phillips, superintendent; and Vancouver School District, Vancouver, Wash., John Erickson, superintendent.

— David Livingston