Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Blog

It takes teamwork to make the dream work

A blog post for the New Year...Reflecting on 2014 and Looking Ahead to 2015

by | Dec 30, 2014

By Mark Glasbrenner
Senior Director of Powerful Practices, BFK

As we move into a new year, it’s a good time to reflect on work in the Ohio NewYearTweetAppalachian Collaborative (OAC) Straight A project, and some of the accomplishments that are helping accelerate student access to advanced learning and effective instruction. John Dewey has been quoted as saying, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.” With that in mind, here are ten (10) accomplishments of the OAC of the past year that cause an opportunity for reflection, as we continue to move forward learning together into 2015.

  1. Eight-member District Implementation Teams were formed, which have played a critical role in the successful implementation of the OAC Straight A project.
  2. Technology purchases of more than $3 million were completed, which resulted in 63 percent of the districts improving their information technology infrastructure, improving access for 45,000 students, installing new technologies in the high schools in 90 percent of the districts, and resulting in a $260,000 cost-savings across the collaborative due to pooled purchasing.
  3. Five (5) institutions of higher education partnered with the OAC to provide opportunities for teachers to participate in graduate level coursework leading to a dual enrollment credential.
  4. Sixty-three (63) teachers were enrolled in a dual enrollment credentialing program.
  5. OAC districts offered 216 dual enrollment courses for a total of 667 credit hours to students.
  6. 445 teachers administered The Student Experience Survey to gather feedback about what matters most to student success. Results of the survey have provided a tool for teachers to personally reflect and grow as they consider their own professional learning goals.
  7. Four (4) model personalized learning pathways were developed by a Pathways Think Tank team of more than 50 members. The model pathways will serve as guides for districts to develop and personalize four pathways for their districts around STEM, arts & communications, health & human services, and business & entrepreneurship.
  8. An online dual enrollment course catalog was developed, which provides a repository of all dual enrollment course offerings by participating districts as well as more detailed information on all four personalized learning pathways.
  9. The Six Key Areas of Professional Learning were operationalized by the Professional Development Coordinators (PDCs) and PDC Leads to build district staff capacity to facilitate effective personalized learning practices. Curators engaged and supported the educators’ use of the Collaboration Space to support the professional learning networks for Common Core, blended learning, and project-based learning implementation across OAC districts.
  10. The Ohio Department of Education conducted programmatic and fiscal audits of the OAC Straight A project in March and November. The OAC received a “clean bill of health” from both audits.

The true strength of the collaborative this past year has been the substantial and lasting value of our shared work to:

  • Overcome the rural opportunity gap by increasing student postsecondary aspiration and preparedness by decreasing the postsecondary costs through college credit or work credentials/certificates earned in high school.
  • Amplify the local talent pipeline to help fuel the resurgence of the local economy.
  • Establish a sustainable collaborative that can steadily grow to include other rural districts in the advancement of the Straight A aims.

As we start our journey into 2015, we look forward to:

  • The development and implementation of the Project-Based Learning system and Professional Learning system
  • District implementation of one pathway and continued development of three pathways
  • The continued credentialing of teachers for dual enrollment
  • Additional collaborative cost savings
  • Launch of the dual enrollment course catalog
  • Expansion of the number of institutions of higher education partnering with the OAC
  • An increase in the number of shared dual enrollment courses offered and taken by students
  • Engaging more OAC educators with an online professional learning system

The North Star of the OAC Straight A project continues to be accelerating access to advanced learning and effective instruction through a networked 6-12 grade personalized learning pathways system. The behaviors and cues of participants in the OAC Straight A project are essential for success in our work. As a resolution for 2015, let’s recommit to the purposefulness and intentionality of our OAC Straight A community through the following norms:

Open mindedness—listen and respect all points of view
Acceptance—suspend judgment
Curiosity—seek to understand, rather than persuade

Sincerity—speak of what has personal heart and meaning
Trust—have confidence in self and others
Revelation—question assumptions on our own part and look for new insights within ourselves
Accountability—take responsibility for our actions
Inclusive—support; don’t throw each other under the bus
Give—let go of the need to do things “my way”
Honesty—go for honesty and depth
Transparency—be open and clear in actions and communications

Awareness—understand our own values and feelings, strengths and weaknesses

Mark Glasbrenner serves as BFK's project director for the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative. You can follow him on Twitter at @mglasbrenner1.