Phil's blog

Strategic Vision for Adaptive Change

Learn from the people 
Plan with the people 
Begin with what they have 
Build on what they know 
Of the best leaders 
When the task is accomplished 
The people will remark 
We have done it ourselves.
― Lao Tzu

Unique not Special

For 16 years since the passage of No Child Left Behind, Indiana has been following the lead of the United States Department of Education, educational testing companies, and standardized testing experts. In those 16 years, the focus of your child’s education has been narrowed by this “Testing Industrial Complex” to a single annual test: a “summative” test these experts promised would measure students, identify poor teachers, rank schools and communities, fix bad schools, catapult the US to the top of the international rankings, and close the achievement gap.

Simplicity vs Simplistic

The major problem of the current model of assessing students and schools is not tests; it is the misuse of tests.

Children are complex. The situations children live in are complex. The skills and knowledge students need to master are complex. The desires of children and their families are complex. The needs of a community are complex. You are complex. I am complex. Life is complex.

What Can Indiana Learn from Finland

Since I have returned, I have been asked whether I think we could match Finland’s success in Indiana. There are conditions contributing to Finland’s success that Indiana will probably never be able to duplicate (its homogeneous society and universal early child care). That being said, the Finns would love to have our talent for creativity and innovation, which is born of our diversity. I did come away with three concrete ideas that are applicable to Indiana.

My Trip to Finland

I went to Finland in June of 2015. Finland, where public restrooms have a soundtrack of birds chirping in the woods. Finland, where death-metal is one of the most popular styles of music. Finland, where more coffee is consumed per capita than anywhere else in the world, but in teensy little cups. Finland, where children have one of the shortest school days and one of the shortest school years, and yet their students perform higher on international tests than almost any other country in the world.


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