Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Implementing Rigor through Policies?

I spoke with a policymaker the other day, and his perspective about increasing rigor was simple:  put a policy in place and enforce the policy.  

I support policies that ensure equitable access to high-level classes, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses. I believe that we need to assess what we are doing in our schools and develop plans for school improvement, whether that is evaluating and adjusting our standards, providing professional development that is focused on vertical alignment, or ensuring that our students who are most at risk for failure have a high-quality teacher. 

However, I believe that real change, lasting change, change that impacts the students who need it the most, happens at the classroom level. The true power of making a difference for a student lies in the hands of the teacher. The teacher is always the key. It’s not the textbook, or the latest program on the market, or even a policy. It is how an individual teacher—it is how you use the textbook or program with your students. It is how you implement the policy.

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