What is Student Success?

Bullard Elementary School kindergarten teacher Bonnie McKinney watches as her students build a bridge out of LEGOs as part of an in school field trip that she won for the school over the summer.

How can we ensure “student success”?

Several weeks ago we announced that we had applied with the state of Georgia’s Department of Education to launch a pilot assessment program that focuses on the individual student.

Then we explained to you why we believed that the time had come to redefine how we judge what student “success” is.

Today, we’d like to attempt to redefine what we mean by “student success.”

If student success can’t be measured by a single test grade or a single grade in a class, then what can we turn to, to understand what success is?

We recently asked our community stakeholders; parents, employees, and taxpayers, what our students should know upon graduating.

Here were some of the most popular answers that you, our community, responded with:

Student success is knowledge of Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, Technology, Engineering, a Foreign language, History, and the other Social Sciences.

Student success is living a healthy lifestyle.

Student success is learning about Fine Arts, leadership, and communications skills.

Student success is the ability to manage your personal finances, run a business, and display a strong work ethic.

Student success is becoming a lifelong learner, developing your critical thinking skills, and proving to be a good citizen who contributes to their community in a positive way.

In the Cobb County School District, we believe all of these things tell a part of the story when it comes to what “student success” is. Each plays a vital role in developing the “whole child,” and each reminds us that every person is an individual and will have different measurements for explaining what success really is.

Every single student who matriculates through our halls and in our district is a unique being with strengths, weaknesses, and experiences that differentiate them from every other student on our rolls. As a single test score, or grade, is useless, on its own, as a measure of success – so too are any one of these measurements. To truly gauge whether or not a student is successful, we must use a wide array of measurements and standards, and we should be willing to be flexible in evaluating what success is for each and every student.

The real question is can we “pre-judge” what student success will be, for every student? Maybe not.

This is precisely why we have developed the Cobb Teaching and Learning System (CTLS), which allows us to monitor the progress of every student, on multiple levels, across long periods of time. CTLS not only allows us the ability to monitor our students, but it provides feedback to help us support student growth, and real-time data to inform how we proceed with their education. CTLS doesn’t do this for “the average” student, or for entire classes, it does this for each and every student every single day.

By utilizing CTLS we can hone in on a student’s academic needs more precisely, and provide them with timely, tailored instruction to meet their individual needs.

While we may not know precisely what “success” will look like for each person, we do know the best way to prepare each and every one of our students to be ready when their opportunity for success presents itself. Not only do we know how to prepare our students, but we are also committed to preparing them and this is what makes the Cobb County School District the best place to lead, teach, and learn.