June 26, 2017

In Corbett we are on national lists of excellence because we do good things FOR Kids. We don’t do things TO kids to get on those lists.

I made this statement twice at the last board meeting because I feel, and so do staff, that this is a critical distinction.  Our first goal, our second goal, and in fact every goal is to “do good things FOR kids”.

I was prompted to make this statement because of concerns that a component of the initiative we presented to the Board in October of 2012 year called “Every Student a Choice” was simply a means of boosting our rankings on the Newsweek list of best schools in the country.  The portion of “Every Student a Choice” that was questioned is a requirement that all students, in order to graduate, need to be admitted to a post secondary degree granting/training institution like  a trade school, the military, or a college or university.

I want to directly address that misinformation, but more importantly I want to refocus the conversation on the good things we are doing For kids.14

Why does Adding a Graduation Requirement Have Nothing to Do with National Rankings?

The misinformation goes something like this:

  • Corbett was ranked very high according to Newsweek in 2010 (top 10 in the nation).

  • Then in 2011 they dropped off the list!!!!

  • In 2012 and 2013 they reappeared on the list but only at #25 and #58 out of approximately 25,000 schools.  (Or something like that I actually don’t even know where we ranked in those years.)

  • Now, they want to make every student go to college just so their number goes up!

  • If that number goes up somehow they benefit personally or at least can bring in more kids!

The Truth is:

  • In the 2011 rankings Newsweek changed their ranking system because the author of their original ranking system moved to the Washington Post.

  • Since that time Corbett still ranks very highly on the Washington post ranking system (the original Newsweek system).

  • In 2011 Newsweek failed to include Corbett in their new ranking system because we were a K-12 school. Presumably, they assumed that K-12 schools would not make the cut.

  • In 2012 and 2013, after Newsweek included us in their new rankings, we were featured higher than any other school in Oregon, and one of the highest in the nation.

  • A new Newsweek system had concluded the same thing that the old Newsweek system did….Corbett is doing good things FOR kids.

  • Further, Corbett has also been included in an entirely different US NEWS ranking system as one of the top schools in the Country and our State.

  • Once again, US NEWS has concluded that Corbett is doing good things FOR kids.IMG_4142

  • Our new graduation requirement is not an attempt to boost our rankings:

    • First, this new graduation requirement is just one small part of our “Every Student a Choice” initiative. It is not a ploy to boost our rankings on the Newsweek’s new list because when we first shared “Every Student a Choice” with the Board we did not even know about the 2013 rankings on the new Newsweek system.

    • Over the last three years 181 out of 196 graduates have already self reported that they were enrolled in a post-secondary degree granting/training institution upon their graduation. Only 15 students would have been affected by our new requirement.

    • Even IF all 15 had enrolled in a post secondary degree granting/training institution changing our average post secondary degree granting/training enrollment rate from 92% to 100%, this would not significantly change our placement on the Newsweek list.

  • The Staff and I do not personally benefit, at least not  in any negative sense, nor are we using this initiative to bring more students to the district.

    • When we do our jobs, when we prepare kids for the world, when we wave goodbye to our seniors knowing that we have given them choice we do benefit.  We benefit because we know we have done a good job; a job that we are all personally committed to.

      • BUT, none of us get paid more! We don’t work on a commission system!

        • Instead we work on a MISSION system.  It is all of our mission to “do good things FOR kids”!DSC_0821

    • As for bringing in more kids.  There are many pieces of evidence indicating that we simply do not want more kids.

      • We have turned down hundreds of kids to come into our district over the last three years.   If we wanted more kids we could have them.  We do not want, or need anything to attract more kids. We have no desire to grow larger.

      • The new plans for our retrofitted and rebuilt campus only include one more classroom (a science lab) than we have now.  If we wanted to bring in more kids we would have planned to build more space for them; but we have not done that.

      • Further, we have two classrooms at Springdale that we could have turned into regular classrooms this year and easily filled with out of district kids…but we didn’t because we don’t want to increase our size.

      • In fact, as a strident advocate of small I am hopeful that changes in our State’s funding system will allow us to shrink our student body over the coming years!

Refocusing the Conversation on the Good Things We do FOR Kids:

I may sound like a broken record here, but we really are a mission driven group here at Corbett School and our mission is to do good things FOR kids.  “Every Student a Choice” is not an initiative that aims at our obviously college bound students. Instead it is an initiative that aims at doing good things FOR ALL kids. This is a shared commitment to equity, equity of opportunity and achievement FOR ALL kids.  As Phil Pearson puts it so eloquently and so often “we are aiming for every kid but especially for those kids that are the farthest out.”

When I look back at the 7% of graduating seniors who left our high school with a diploma and no transition plan, I feel like we did not fulfill our mission!   Seven percent of our students left us but we did not help them make a plan for their future. How could we fix this?corbett-middle-school-e1314740450263

We could be very purposeful about requiring each student to describe to us in a transition plan what they are going to do after high school.  But not just describe it like some assignment to plan for a pretend future……Instead let’s make it a transition plan that we could authentically assess!  Lets make it a plan that has real world implications with real world challenges and real world outcomes.

Let’s do our jobs, let’s fulfill our mission, and make sure that when every student, even the farthest student out, leaves our school they not only have a diploma but they have a transition plan that includes their acceptance into a post secondary degree granting/training institution like a trade school, the military, or a college.   IF we do that, we will have done our jobs, we will have completed our mission. We will have given every student a choice!  A choice to follow their transition plan or not.  At least they will have had the choice and we will have done good things FOR kids.

Randy Trani About Randy Trani

A science teacher at heart, Dr. Trani loves the Corbett school community and the Corbett community at large. As a resident of Corbett Dr. Trani is committed to delivering quality education to Corbett students. Dr. Trani became the principal of Corbett Schools in 2004, promoted to Superintendent of Corbett School District #39 in 2010.