Tim Westerberg: Teacher, principal experience can help improve education
Summit School District board candidate
- Occupation: education consultant and author
- Hometown: Dillon
- Years in Summit County: 15
- Family: wife, five children and four grandchildren
- Civic Involvement: Dillon Town Council, 2010-2018
I look forward to serving on the Summit School District board of education and believe I have the experience and the credentials to make a positive impact on the education of the children in the county. I have a Ph.D. in education administration and 45 years of experience as a teacher, coach, principal, consultant and author.
If elected, my top priorities will include the following:
High academic expectations for all students and the support they need to meet those expectations.
Across the country, discrepancies between graduation rates (high) and student proficiency levels in language arts and math (low), the number of students needing remedial work before taking freshman-level courses in college (one-third on average and much higher at some institutions), and the widespread recognition that course grades often do not reflect students’ true achievement levels (grade inflation) suggest we need to examine our expectations for student achievement in American classrooms.
The elimination of low-level courses, true standards-based grading practices and the requirement that all students earn a college credit and/or industry certificate to graduate are among the strategies I support to institutionalize high expectations for all.
Of course, high expectations for students also means high expectations for the district. School leaders have a moral responsibility to ensure quality teaching in every classroom, the early detection of learning difficulties, and the programs and supports needed to get and keep students on track. Those supports include attention to the social/emotional needs of our students. Summit School District has a number of such programs and supports in place.
Working to provide the leadership and the resources necessary for Summit School District to become one of the top performing districts in Colorado.
I believe the Summit School District has the potential to be more than just “above state averages” on state achievement tests and should instead set goals relative to becoming recognized as one of the top performing districts in the state as measured by a number of indicators including, but not limited to, state tests. I am a particular advocate for locally developed common assessments as valid measures of student achievement vis-à-vis established performance standards.
Courageous and visionary leadership and adequate financial resources are necessary to achieve the goal of being one of the best in almost any undertaking. As a board member, I would support policies and initiatives calculated to advance that cause.
Hiring, developing and retaining high-performing principals and teachers in every building and classroom.
Research and conventional wisdom unequivocally support the contention that the single most important factor in a child’s growth is the quality of the teacher in front of that child in the classroom every day (with the second most important being the school principal). We need to strive to hire the best, we need effective evaluation systems in place, and we need to compensate teachers and principals well.
Just as important, teachers and principals need high-quality, targeted and sustained, research-based professional training as an integral component of their work experiences. Research makes clear that professional development can be among the most impactful factors in increasing student achievement and that it can also be an enormous waste of time and money. Having spent the past 15 years providing professional training to teachers and principals throughout the country, I can help steer us toward the former.
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