Redefining Ready!: Kids are More than Academic Numbers

October 5, 2018, by Jimmy Minichello

rr-summit national

The nearly 300 superintendents and other school district officers left this week’s Redefining Ready! National Summit with a number of key messages, but the one that rang the loudest was: The more than 50 million students in America’s public school classrooms are more than just a test score.

Educators gathered in the northwest suburbs of Chicago for the first-ever Redefining Ready! summit on Oct. 1, a one-day event hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, and High School District 214.

rr summit dave“Our students are more than a score they earn on a test,” David Schuler told a packed audience at the outset of the meeting. Schuler is the superintendent of District 214 and is also a past president of AASA. Earlier this year, he was named the 2018 National Superintendent of the Year®.

“I would respectively suggest that when we devalue and minimize a kid down to a single test score, we devalue and minimize their teachers, their parents, their schools, their administrators and their communities,” he said. “We need to spend time broadening the definition of student success. We have to ensure all of our kids are relevant and engaged.”

Launched two years ago by AASA, the Redefining Ready! initiative introduces new research-based metrics to more appropriately assess whether students are ready to pursue their lifelong goals and dreams following post-secondary education.

rr summit students“We’re definitely making progress in terms of the nation understanding that our students are much more than a test score,” said Andrew Wise, superintendent of Community Unit School District 16, in Stanford, Ill. “There are several research-based indicators that we use to make sure that the students are actually ready for college, career and life. There is so much more than scoring well on a standardized test. We need all students of all abilities and skills in order for this nation to move forward.”

Throughout the summit, school leaders had the opportunity to visit several high schools throughout the district and saw firsthand what Redefining Ready! looks like. These schools included Buffalo Grove High School, Elk Grove High School, John Hersey High School, Prospect High School, Rolling Meadows High School and Wheeling High School.

Discussions during these visits focused on career pathway design, instructional technology, building partnerships and data collection. While in the classrooms, educators were able to meet and speak with students entrenched in career paths such as mechanical engineering, information technology and computer programmers.

rr summit students 2“We are not just getting students ready for four-year education beyond high schools,” said Kellie Sanders, chief academic officer, The School District of New Berlin in New Berlin, Wis. “Many of our students will enter a career field after high school and we want to make sure they are life ready so they can become good citizens. [Redefining Ready!] digs a lot deeper into what makes an effective student.”

“It’s such an honor to be able to host the national summit to show off the amazing things that are happening in our schools,” said Schuler. “We have to provide hope for our students and our families in our communities. We have to provide an opportunity for everyone to understand the commitment we have to the community’s economic development.”

Following the summit, members of the AASA Redefining Ready! cohort gathered for a meeting which continued through the next day. Cohort members participated in discussions around a number of key tactical themes, including:

  • Redefining Ready! Implementation;
  • K-8 Readiness Indicators;
  • Life Readiness Indicators;
  • Data Research;
  • and Communication.

rr summit mort dave“Not only does this movement have great potential, but the voices of this movement are yours,” said Mort Sherman, associate executive director, AASA, at the gathering. “We, as the premier superintendents association in the world, are so committed to this, we want your voices to make a difference for kids across the world.”

“Other people are defining the data points that are important. It's time we take that back,” said Schuler.

“The power of this work is not only the voices you gain but the conversations you have with one another. I am committed to your success,” said Sherman.

The inaugural AASA Redefining Ready! Cohort was incredibly successful. Some of the highlights during the first year include:

  • 37 districts joined the 2017-18 Redefining Ready! Cohort.
  • 14 states included Redefining Ready! language in their ESSA plans.
  • 31 visits were made to states and districts to talk about Redefining Ready!.
  • More than 50 districts have signed up to be part of the 2018-19 Redefining Ready! Cohort.

rr summit tablePhoto Gallery: Take a look at the AASA photo gallery comprised of photos from the Redefining Ready! National Summit and cohort meeting.  

VIDEO: Watch the AASA Redefining Ready! Cohort video, which highlights the last cohort meeting, held at Virginia Beach City Public Schools earlier this year.

To join the conversation via Twitter, access #RedefiningReady and our Twitter Moment.

To learn more about the program, visit the AASA Redefining Ready! web page. Superintendents and other school system leaders can also contact Debbie Magee, AASA program manager, at