Friday, March 17, 2000

Expert praises schools council


Impact made by 'Partners'

BY ANDREA TORTORA
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — Students will achieve success in education when communities work to build a seamless continuum of services from preschool through college, according to a national expert from the Education Trust.

        Nevin Brown spoke Thursday with Northern Kentucky's “Council of Partners” at Northern Kentucky University.

        He praised the group of school superintendents, public- and private-college administrators, and business and community representatives for getting an early start aligning educational services.

        “When all the partners feel they have a strong stake in the work you are doing, they are more likely to remain involved,” Mr. Brown said. “It helps to ensure that the community buys into what we are trying to do.”

        The Washington, D.C.-based Education Trust helps communities create these cooperatives, often called “P-16 councils” to reflect the focus on education in preschool through the fourth year of college.

        Northern Kentucky's council began ahead of the national push started by the Education Trust in 1993. The group was used as a model for Kentucky's statewide P-16 Council, created in 1999.

        The Northern Kentucky group already has made a legislative impact. A math assessment test started by the council to help high-school students assess how prepared they are for college math might soon become state law. A measure to give the test across the state passed the House this week.

        Dianne Bazell, staff person for Kentucky's P-16 Council, said the Council of Partners inspired others to think cooperatively.

        “This is a system. We are all in it and we are all working toward the same goals,” Ms. Bazell said.

        She told the group about the state's plans to assess how well high-school curricula align with what's taught in college, and help other regions start their own P-16 councils.

        Yet superintendents cautioned Ms. Bazell to limit the state's role in the P-16 efforts.

        Bernie Sandfoss, Southgate superintendent, said regional players should decided which issues are a priority for them.

        “We've got to keep the door open,” Mr. Sandfoss said. “We are all equal partners, equal players working in the same direction.”

        And standards for determining student success should be based on available data, not what educators think, said Bryan Blavatt, Boone County superintendent.

        The Education Trust suggests communities look at college placement tests to help students and high schools determine what needs to be taught, Mr. Brown said.

        And all of this integrative talking, thinking and tinkering has led to a more public teaching process, he said.

        “This has begun to open doors in classrooms and schools,” Mr. Brown said. “Teaching is so often a private activity behind closed doors.”

       



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