BY JENNIFER MARGULIS
As schools implement more rigorous academic standards, holistic and flexible approaches to K-12 education flourish.
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS | ART BY LEIF NOBLE
Beginning this school year, all K-12 public school students will be evaluated by the Common Core state standards, a set of rigorous academic standards created by several outside groups including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and adopted by states around the country.
But even as Oregon pursues a familiar course of standardized testing, another education trend is also emerging — one that focuses on investing in the whole child, and ensuring all children have not just the academic but also the social and emotional resources to enter the workforce and become productive members of society and the economy.
It’s a yin-and-yang approach that characterizes modern-day education reform, theory and practice. Common Core will help create consistent results and accountability in Oregon schools, says Duncan Wyse, president of the Oregon Business Council. But the whole-child approach is equally serious business, aimed at addressing the overwhelming social and economic problems facing many Oregon students, as well as the sociocultural demands of a constantly shifting global economy.
Common Core testing begins next spring. In the meantime, Oregon Business decided to spotlight a few people working on the holistic and flexible side. Dr. Nancy Golden, chief education officer for the Oregon Education Investment Board, talks about closing the “opportunity gap” facing disadvantaged kids. The president of Concordia University and principal of Faubion K-8 discuss their pioneering “3 to Ph.D.” partnership. We also check in with an Ashland tech executive — a cloudtechnology pioneer who explains why he enrolled his son in a Waldorf school that eschews technology in the classroom.
It’s a diverse, loosely connected set of voices that highlights the complexity of the educational landscape and the variety of innovations springing up alongside a uniform academic standard.