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ISD 181 Viewpoint: Be a part of the future workforce

The Brainerd Public Schools are looking for two or three members of the community who do not have children currently in the school district to join its diverse District Advisory Committee for a three-year term. Currently, the committee has parent and educator representatives from each school who participate in making recommendations to the school board on rigorous academic standards and student achievement goals and measures and to involve the community in supporting the district's World's Best Workforce plan. The committee should include members who reflect the diversity of the district and its schools, are committed to learning about curriculum, staff development and instruction.

The World's Best Workforce Plan (state statute, section 120B.11) is a comprehensive, long-term planning structure to support and improve teaching and learning with the goal of producing the world's best workforce. It is intended to serve as a foundational document that aligns educational systems, structures and initiatives that ensure student achievement pre-k through high school. The "Striving for the World's Best Workforce" bill was passed in 2013 by the Minnesota State Legislature to ensure every school district in the state is making strides to increase student performance. Each district must develop a plan that addresses the following five goals: 1) all children are ready to start kindergarten; 2) all third-graders can read at grade level; 3) all achievement gaps between students are closed; 4) all students are ready for career and/or post-secondary education, and finally, all students graduate from high school.

The World's Best Workforce legislation offers ISD 181 a unique opportunity to build on the numerous successes it has had while adapting to the quickly changing needs of the economy and nation. Since Brainerd Public Schools are educating students now for jobs which do not yet exist, World's Best Workforce frames and focuses the systems and structures of ISD 181 to ensure that its graduates are not masters of content, but masters of innovation. This empowers students to take entrepreneurial initiative, to flex the muscle of their imagination and through collaborative leadership, to meet the challenges of the 21st Century, to achieve personal goals and to create a new and better society. As ISD 181 looks to the workforce of the future where routine jobs are disappearing and knowledge is commoditized, the education our students are receiving now must be grounded in the four Cs of the 21st Century classroom: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication. This approach to learning must be organized around engaging students in 21st Century skills‚ in a learner-centered environment, working at their instructional levels and advancing only when they have demonstrated proficiency.

This legislation was born out of the recognized need to work intentionally to maintain Minnesota's position as a national leader in education and a state known for its high quality workforce. This is important for a number of reasons: 1) our workforce population is aging; 2) 70 percent of future jobs will require more than a high school diploma by 2018 and 3) the state lacks an adequate number of qualified candidates to fill many good paying jobs.

The specific achievement targets for the plan are created by teachers and administrators collaborating in the district's Continuous Improvement Process. The district as a whole and each school specifically create student achievement goals based on Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCAs) results and other assessment measures. Each school creates its own action plan as to how its goal will be achieved. The work of the staff development teacher leaders from each school, in conjunction with administrators, is to implement those plans and monitor student progress. The district and school goals as well as the district's complete World's Best Workforce Plan can be found on the district website www.isd181.org under the academics tab. If you are interested in being considered for a position on the District Advisory Committee, please contact Tim Murtha, Brainerd Public Schools Director of Teaching and Learning at timothy.murtha@isd181.org or call 218-454-6970

Some of the material for this article was sourced from MDE's website and Brainerd Public School's World's Best Workforce Plan.

Tim Murtha, Director of Teaching and Learning, Brainerd Public Schools

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