Guest Article Written By: Adam Stacy, Director of Sales, CollegiateZone
Race to the Top has been a controversial issue since 2010. As with any grant, both strings and opportunities are attached. However, as the struggle continues, how can one weigh the significance of what is needed versus what is wanted? College readiness and preparation is currently in a state of transformation. With technology moving at a rapid pace, the skills required for the next generation are much greater than anyone could have anticipated. Former practices must be replaced with modern pedagogy to set the stage for success. Race to the Top provides a solid piece of college readiness and support; is this piece too large to pass up due to controversy?
It’s disheartening to see so many headlines sharing news of large, leading school districts failing to or refusing to submit their Race to the Top – District applications. Amidst fears of technology replacing or supplanting teachers and counselors, district leadership and district faculties have struggled to come to agreement on setting new standards and developing solid plans for using technology to close achievement gaps and promote college and workforce readiness for struggling students.
A counselor can never be replaced by a machine; even the newest, sleekest gadgets with the most up-to-date software will never match the listening ear, care, and input provided by quality educators that take their students and careers seriously. As an extreme example, even the most automated assembly line still requires a well-trained human to guide, direct, and repair.
But that’s not really what the Race to the Top – District effort is about. Nobody is proposing that counselors be discarded and replaced by software technicians, setting the field and only stepping in when there’s a problem. Our students, our children, are not assembled products and the technology partners working with school districts both in and outside of the Race to the Top effort are not ignorant of this fact. Every student is a unique individual person and each deserves a unique educational solution. That’s the true focus of Race to the Top – District.
And that’s where technology becomes such a vital tool. For the 2009-2010 school year, the state of California ranked second to last in the nation with a counselor to student ratio of 810: 1. Florida was right in the middle at 452: 1. Personally, I don’t think I could remember that many names from the whole history of my life, much less that many each year. The student count is simply too high for any one counselor to provide effective and meaningful guidance to every student on an individual level. Without an active embrace of new tools, our system is destined to continue a path of mediocrity and decline in relation to other developed economies. Just as the internet revolutionized the way humanity communicates, new technologies will enable each counselor, each educator, to reach out and tailor-make the education of each student.
There will be hiccups along the way as new solutions are attempted and failed but with each step, we’ll reach new capabilities, offering better, more effective education that meets the needs of each.