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A vision for the class of 2030

Elected at the age of 19 to my local school board 23 years ago, I now have the distinction of being the youngest NSBA president in history. As I begin my term as NSBA’s 70th president, I am proud to say that more than half of my life has been devoted to school board leadership.

Across the country, the Class of 2017 is nearing graduation, and I hope each graduate succeeds in reaching his or her full potential. I also thank each of you for your work in helping these seniors reach this milestone.

As education leaders in our communities, it’s vital that we ensure the educational offerings in our school districts meet the needs of our students—in the current classes and in future graduating classes—and prepare them for continuing their education and entering the workforce.

This fall, kindergartners will be entering America’s public schools as the high school graduating class of 2030.

How can we as school board members accomplish these objectives? We can begin by comparing the diversity of the students in our districts with the diversity that exists on our local school boards. We must not think of diversity solely in terms of ethnicity or gender, but in all its forms including age and diversity of thought. Think of the insight and perspective a recent high school graduate could bring to your board deliberations.

Has your board met with local business leaders and discussed the knowledge and skills they require of graduates? How is your school district preparing students to lead in today’s environment and with an eye toward the future?

The focus of this issue is student assessments. Properly aligned standards-based assessments of an appropriate length and frequency can provide vital information about students’ learning and achievement. Research tells us that children in districts whose school boards appropriately and consistently use assessment data achieve higher levels of academic excellence.

The school board with an eye toward the future success of the graduating class of 2030 devotes meeting time to in-depth conversations about assessment results. They request disaggregated data and discuss and strategize where improvement is needed and what resources are required.

A forward-looking Vision 2030 school board also recognizes the power of assessment that goes beyond a traditional test. In an era where Americans face challenges surrounding health care and related costs, could it be that the long-term solution begins with the importance of physical education programs and establishing a lifelong love of fitness and healthy habits? Has your school board assessed whether your physical education programs are accomplishing this objective? These are the more challenging assessments to undertake, but ones which effective leaders embrace.

Although school boards may face many challenges while looking ahead to the future class of 2030, I know there are many successes.

My hope is that school leaders will take every opportunity to recognize and celebrate their local school, teacher, and student successes. NSBA’s Stand Up 4 Public Schools campaign tells the stories of the extraordinary things taking place in public schools across the country and of the people who are “difference makers’” in our schools and communities. Visit  www.standup4publicschools.org to both be inspired and to share your story.

-by Kevin Ciak, president of the National School Boards Association.  This article first appeared in American School Board Journal June 2017.

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