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Top insights into the future of education in the US

For this leadership Thoughtexchange, we hosted an online process in partnership with NCERT and Guide K12. Superintendents across the US joined the conversation to discuss: top challenges in passing ballot initiatives, innovative ways to build trust in the community and the leadership perspective on Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the current climate for change.

NCERT is bringing in two excellent speakers to the conference in Florida on March 30th to April 1st, Don Lifto, co-author of School Finance Elections: A Comprehensive Planning Model for Success and Noelle Ellerson, the Associate Executive Director of Policy & Advocacy for the AASA. Don and Noelle will speak to and animate our collective conversation about these topics.

Thank you to the many Superintendents who took part in this conversation. 


3 Steps


Summary of the Results

These are the thoughts that received the most stars in each question. Unlike surveys where people respond to previously determined ideas, in a Thoughtexchange all thoughts are contributed by participants independently and valued by other participants in the process.

Click on any question to see a selection of the top responses.

What are some key challenges education leaders in your area are facing when trying to pass ballot initiatives?

Please share a short story about something innovative you (or someone you know) has done to build trust and understanding during non-ballot years.

With ESSA working through the regulatory phase and true implementation set to begin later in 2017, what are your thoughts on the current climate for change?


Thoughtexchange Interest Analysis

In this Thoughtexchange we examined the patterns of how people put stars on thoughts. People with similar interests star thoughts in similar ways.  The thoughts starred in similar ways are then grouped together. 

Groups of thoughts starred by most people are Common Interest Thoughts.  Groups of thoughts starred by only small groups of people are Special Interest Thoughts.

For the NCERT process, a unique interest analysis was performed on each of the three questions to determine which thoughts within a question were of common interest and which were of special interest to a unique group of people.

common interest thoughts

Interest Analysis Results for Question 1 - Key Takeaways

“What are some key challenges education leaders in your area are facing when trying to pass ballot initiatives?”

Overall areas of common interest for the first question include concerns about the economic challenges of community members and determining the best way to communicate the implications of initiatives and, in particular, new money initiatives.

There were three special interest groups identified.

One group was primarily concerned with voter composition and the requirement of a supermajority to pass an initiative. For this group, explaining the details (technical and otherwise) to both the parents and non parents in the community is a challenging proposition.

A second group had concerns centered around strong, organized opposition groups using traditional and social media to spread their message. This group was also concerned with the misunderstandings around public schools that can result in schools losing public trust and the education system being blamed for problems within the larger political system. A final concern was around the failure of the state to provide adequate funding, including equalization policies for property poor districts.

The third special interest group was the smallest and became smaller moving from the Share to the Star step. This group was primarily concerned with economic trends that can create pessimism and distrust during bond elections and the need to do “more with less”. This group communicated strong concerns around building long term trust with community members through regular communication and communicating long term plans.

What are some key challenges education leaders in your area are facing when trying to pass ballot initiatives?


Interest Analysis Results for Question 2 - Key Takeaways

“Please share a short story about something innovative you (or someone you know) has done to build trust and understanding during non ballot years”

Overall areas of common interest included stories around proactively building and maintaining relationships with the community, specifically communicating areas of student success and following up on any promises, as well as creating meaningful opportunities for the schools and community to communicate and interact.

There were two special interest groups identified.

One group prioritized stories centered around using regular online approaches (such as Thoughtexchange) for communicating with stakeholders. This group put particular priority on ensuring that these communications were open, transparent and regular.

A second group prioritized stories around setting up townhalls and meetings in the community with different interest groups such as senior citizens, civic groups and agencies.

The two special interest groups were roughly the same size and there was a very small shift towards the Thoughtexchange users, open and transparent communication interests as participants moved from the Share to the Star step during the Thoughtexchange process.

Click on the question below to see the thoughts associated with each interest group.​

Please share a short story about something innovative you (or someone you know) has done to build trust and understanding during non-ballot years.


Interest Analysis Results for Question 3 - Key Takeaways

“With ESSA working through the regulatory phase and true implementation set to begin later in 2017, what are your thoughts on the current climate for change?”

Overall areas of common interest include cautious optimism and hope for more flexibility at the state level. Special consideration was given as to how the newfound flexibility will play out following all relevant negotiated regulations.

There were two special interest groups identified.

One group, and the larger of the two, was particularly optimistic about the climate for change, seeing it as a great opportunity. This group prioritized thoughts expressing optimism around new opportunities for innovation, supporting individual student needs and moving away from regulations that led to the “Race to the Top”.

A second group was less optimistic but still prioritized thoughts around the value of change as long as the implementation makes sense. Some of the issues expressed in thoughts prioritized by this group included consideration for social emotional learning, teacher shortages and including the SAT/ACT as part of the growth model. This group also prioritized thoughts expressing concerns around fatigue from all the changes that have already occurred.

The first “Optimistic” special interest group was the larger of the two and became larger moving from the Share to the Star step during the Thoughtexchange process.

Click on the question below to see the thoughts associated with each interest group.​

With ESSA working through the regulatory phase and true implementation set to begin later in 2017, what are your thoughts on the current climate for change?

About NCERT

About Guide K-12

The National Center for Education Research and Technology (NCERT) is comprised of prominent school district superintendents from throughout the United States and Canada. In association with the superintendents is a distinguished group of education-related corporate members who participate actively and collaboratively with the group. The group focuses on contemporary issues of interest to the CEO of a school district.

GuideK12™ is a web-based Geovisual Analytic tool that helps school districts solve critical educational challenges by visualizing data in a way that has never been possible before now. By being able to link student information with household information, a district can save time and money while increasing transparency for everything from boundary planning, to program resource allocation to student performance analysis.

About Thoughtexchange

Thoughtexchange is a group discussion app for modern leaders who want to build relationships while making informed decisions. This simple, open ended process ensures everyone is heard, everyone learns and important ideas emerge.

Thoughtexchange can be used to engage groups of 5-50,000 people and patent pending data analysis provide deep insights so customers can take actions that have buy-in.

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