A World-Class Education System in Vermont: Are We There Yet?
2013 VSBA/VSA Student Voice Contest
When compared to other states, Vermont’s schools are pretty good. In certain areas however, we
do not do well enough.
For example, while we have among the best high school graduation rates in the country, we
know that there are too many students who fall short of their potential or slip through the cracks
because they are not fully engaged in their education or because they don’t receive the supports
they need from their schools, their families, or their community.
The Vermont School Boards Association and the Vermont Superintendents Association are
committed to making sure we have more than just a good education system – Vermont’s students
deserve a world-class education system. To get there, we think we need to focus on five areas:
§ Assuring Success for Every Student
§ Supporting a New Vision for Teaching and Learning
§ Engaging and Supporting Families and Communities
§ Delivering and Using World-Class Technology
§ Providing Effective Leadership
Please submit a piece of work – essay, video, song, poem, etc. – reflecting your views on one or
more of the five elements of a world-class education system described below. Your piece could
include examples of your own experience in school, your dream of what a world-class school
would be like, and/or your beliefs about how our schools can become all we want them to be.
Essay submissions should be limited to 300 words or less.
Our selection panel will choose up to five finalists – finalists will receive a prize of $300.
Submissions should be emailed to Nicole Mace at email@example.com. The final deadline for
submissions is Friday, May 3.
Note: Early submissions received by Friday, March 8 may be used for a preview
event at the Vermont Statehouse on March 13.
Assuring Success for Every Student
Students learn best when they play an active and meaningful role in their education. In a world-
class education system the learning styles, interests, and strengths of each student will drive
teaching, learning activities and assessments in every school. All schools will provide easy
access to meaningful and challenging real-world learning opportunities, including online classes,
technical and college courses, internships and community-based or project-based learning
Students will advance to a more challenging concept or subject by demonstrating that they know
what they need to know rather than by clocking time in a seat in a classroom.
Guiding Question: How can our schools ensure success for every student?
Supporting a New Vision for Teaching and Learning
In a world where information is available 24/7, education does not need to be limited by the
walls of a classroom. Technology has changed how students learn, the tools available for
teaching, and the skills students will need for the future. Teachers are no longer just instructors
who deliver information and knowledge, but mentors, guides and facilitators.
In a world-class education system, teachers will work as part of a team, allowing them to use the
best of their talents and interests to ensure all students master important skills and concepts.
Teachers will be more flexible in the way they teach, where they teach, and when they teach.
Guiding Question: What is your vision for teachers and teaching in your school?
Engaging and Supporting Families and Communities
Every student is more successful when supported by families and communities who know them
and support what they are learning at school. In a world-class education system, school districts
will build strong relationships with families by asking them to help develop student learning
goals, participate in student project demonstrations, and by keeping them well-informed about
their kid’s progress in school.
We also know that families and children must be well-supported outside of school. In Vermont,
we have a growing number of children and families living in poverty. When students do not
have enough food to eat, a safe place to sleep at night, or access to reliable transportation, they
have a harder time coming to school ready to learn. While education is the best way to get out of
poverty, schools alone cannot overcome the challenges created by poverty. Support for
struggling families must come from education, health and human services systems working
Guiding Question: How can schools, families and community work together to support student
Delivering and Using World-Class Technology
In a world-class education system, modern technology must be as available as the electricity that
flows when you flip on a light switch.
Every student needs access to up-to-date digital learning devices. Every student, family and
school must have reliable, high-speed broadband connectivity. All teachers must be able to use
digital learning devices and other technologies to support student learning in real and engaging
Guiding Question: How can technology best be used to help students learn, create and explore
Providing Effective Leadership
In a world-class education system, school buildings and school systems are led by strong leaders
who make tough decisions and direct every resource towards serving all children, despite tough
challenges and too many distractions. School boards must attract and keep high quality
principals and superintendents, individuals who lead with a spirit of optimism, collaboration, and
focus. Together, school boards and administrators must be responsible and focused on making
good decisions on behalf of students.
Improvements to schools in Vermont will also require strong support from the Governor, our
new Agency of Education, the State Board of Education, teachers, businesses, community
members, parents, and students. The focus of everyone needs to be on student learning and
updating our schools to meet the needs of every student in a rapidly changing world.
Guiding Question: Describe a leader who ensures we have world-class schools in Vermont.