Through our sponsorship of US-Japan Baseball (www.usjapanbaseball.com) we support an organization that shares the Outfluence passion for helping teenagers prepare for life and work. On August 17 we attended our first baseball game which took place at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in our nation’s capital. We had the honor of meeting Japanese and American leaders of US-Japan Baseball including Takehiro Shimada, Minister | Public Affairs of the Embassy of Japan in the USA. We are excited about our connection to US-Japan Baseball and we thank our friend John Flood, the President and Founder of the organization, for opening the door to our participation.
Like them or dislike them, our nation’s leaders and role models are destroying the way that humanity communicates. Politicians fight with insults and slurs rather than with facts and ideas. Celebrities have made verbal abuse normal (Keeping Up with the Kardashians, anyone?) and negative self image popular (#thinspo or #revengebody for example.)
These people aren’t taking down communication singlehandedly, however. Chances are, a breakdown in communication is happening in your own home. Your own classroom. Around your own dinner table. As families, as friends, we don’t fully relate anymore. The explosion in digital communication has coarsened face-to-face communication and emboldened disrespectful behind-the-screen communication.
These influences are removing the human connection to our relationships and interactions.
Even now, you are sitting behind a screen of some sort to read my blog post. And that could be okay. How do we reintroduce humanity into our daily interactions, while also maintaining a balanced consumption of technology — since it is unavoidable that the world will advance in tech?
DeskAlerts observes that “Poor communications in the workplace can result in friction, frustration, confusion and an extremely tense environment wherein people are not motivated to be productive and are not inspired to collaborate. This lack of motivation can then spill over to how staff members relate to clients and potential customers.”
In the classroom students use negative communication to acquire attention, to fill their desire for power, to gain revenge, to avoid participating in any activity that might lead to failure, as a response to distraction or out of boredom.
There are no quick solutions to our communication dilemma. After much research and experience both in the classroom and in the workplace, we believe the place to begin teaching people how to connect with humanity is the 9th grade of high school. By this point students have experienced enough of life to be able to grasp concepts and implement life skills such as communication.
With our uniquely designed activities and projects, students and teachers discover communication styles and interpretation, and in lively discussions develop stronger communication skills. They put their newly discovered communication skills to work in further training –
· in personal development
· life-planning skills for career planning
· time and financial management
· and much more.
Check out how You Are Here… Now What? our signature program for students can bring humanity out of the communication dark ages, and into the new ever changing world.
The 21st Century Education Foundation of Anne Arundel County, Maryland named Outfluence, LLC as a Business Partner of the Year at South River High School for 2017. Kay Betz, Co-Founder and President of Outfluence, received the award during the annual Superintendent's Breakfast.
Outfluence, LLC received the some exciting news from Signature Coordinator Linda Lamon at South River High School in Edgewater, Maryland this week:
"An exciting example of how our Signature Programs impact students' futures: Megan Rutkai, a Global Communications & Public Affairs Signature Certificate bound student, just received record breaking news that she was granted early admission to Harvard University!!! Megan attributes her success in school, and her acceptance to Harvard University, to the opportunities offered through the GCPA Signature Program.
"Megan called me yesterday, besides her family she wanted me to be the first to know. She said Harvard chose her due to the Signature experiences on her resume and she wanted to thank me. The reality is she is an incredibly deserving young woman, and it has been an honor to work with her."
The Outfluence Team, which has been an active part of the Signature Program since its inception five years ago, applauds Megan's great achievement, and wishes her the very best in her bright academic future! Ms. Lamon, the administrators, and others in the business community involved in AACPS have been remarkably committed to the development of the Signature Program. It is exciting for us to see their dedication so beautifully rewarded.
Congratulations again to Megan, and to the Signature Team family!
90% of communication occurs silently.
So many people don't understand this, which is why we often see careers derail like a speeding train, full of passengers, ideas, and dreams. Everything inside is destroyed.
Naturally we don't want that to happen to us.
What we read, what we watch, the people with whom we associate, the organizations to which we belong, the neighborhood in which we reside, the clothing we wear . . . everything we do and say, in other words, sends a message about who we are. Outfluence identifies this form of communication as Constant Messaging®.
One aspect of Constant Messaging® involves sensory gateways and how they function in communication. As individuals approach us at a network gathering we first observe their general appearance, and we make a judgment. Then as they get closer, we see their facial expressions, and we make a judgment. The final gateway is the greeting, when we hear and possibly experience their handshake, and we make a judgment. We often know at the conclusion of the sensory gateway process whether this initial meeting will develop into a relationship.
Other components of Constant Messaging® are active and passive listening, message interpretation including bias in interpretation, feedback, barriers to communication, intentional and unintentional messaging, and more.
Kay Betz, MBA, is a recognized expert in the subject of Constant Messaging®. It has been a part of her curriculum as adjunct faculty at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland for the past 20 years. On September 27th, 2016, Kay will be a Featured Speaker at the Outfluence Fall Workshop Series.
Her presentation yields necessary communication tools to ensure that your career and your business stay on the tracks to success.
Register today atwww.outfluence.com/fallworkshop.
(Three mornings - 9/27, 10/12, 10/27 - Westminster Conference Center, Westminster, MD.)
Imagine you have awakened from a deep sleep that lasted 5 years or more. Your home is gone because the rent or the mortgage was unpaid. Your job is gone because your employer couldn't wait for you. Your career is gone because technology has taken it. Your family has separated from you. Your friends have moved on. You have no one to go to. You are in the same location as you were when you fell asleep, but the landscape has changed. You have not changed. You have not advanced sufficiently in knowledge, skill or experience to compete in the world. You have nothing.
What do you do? You are here . . . Now What?
As I learned over the weekend, men and women exiting from lengthy prison sentences often experience the reality described above. As a result, 50% or more of former offenders are recidivists: they offend again, and they are returned to that deep sleep. Of the former offenders who do find employment after release from prison, 80% of them don't last in the job. Why? They lack the soft skills. They don't know how to work with others, they don't respond well to authority, they communicate poorly. They return to their former life, they commit crime, they return to prison.
It costs you and me, the taxpayers, approximately $35,000 annually to house an inmate. One inmate. And there are millions of inmates. Very few inmates are rehabilitated in prison. One reason is because the prisons are dominated by gangs that control inmates, and sometimes the prison employees as well. To be fair, there are programs in the prison system that do attempt to educate the prison population. There are also programs in the community that support offenders upon their release. But the programs only scratch the surface of the need.
The disturbing bottom line is that nonviolent offenders are incarcerated with violent offenders and they, too, become violent. Then they are released back into society and their impact on our neighborhoods is worse than it was before they were incarcerated. It is an endless cycle of human carnage and community pain.
Fortunately, in Maryland, there is a light beginning to shine ever so faintly at the end of the tunnel. A program called Day-Reporting is being developed. It recently was funded and it has the support of Maryland's Governor Hogan. Many eyes around the state and beyond are on this program. Here is my understanding of how it will work: offenders who are convicted of a nonviolent crime and are sentenced to 18 months or less of incarceration will be sent, or have the option to be sent, to the Day-Reporting program where they will report every day for 12 hours of skills training and education and employment. The remainder of the day, the offender will be on his own. He will have to arrange for housing and meals and essentially create a home life. The time on his own will be challenging because at this point in his life he is starting over with nothing - no money, no experience, few if any friends, very little if any family support.
A program called Gatekeepers is located in Hagerstown, Maryland. Its Founder and Director, Bill Gaertner, a former offender, recognized the need for someone to be waiting at the prison gate to support men and women after they have paid their debt to society and are searching for a way to transition back into society successfully. Mr. Gaertner is doing remarkable work and Outfluence is exploring ways to help him.
Everybody deserves a legitimate second chance.
Through personal experience and observation over 5 decades I understand what it takes to construct a life that is, in the end, looked back upon with satisfaction. Today my team and I at Outfluence teach youngsters, young professionals and business leaders how to build a life of which they will be proud, a life that will be filled with achievements large and small, that will make them happy and fulfilled. Their path from here to fulfillment won't be easy. It never is. But if we can create awareness in them so that when they do fall down, an a-ha! moment will reveal itself and they will know how to recover and move forward. Awareness is what will help them to avoid the long delays in their journey to fulfillment brought on by mistakes that are compounded by bad decisions.
We teach our audiences that one bad decision, a relationship decision, for example, can cost them 5 years or more of pain and delay.
A fulfilled life is composed of knowledge, communication skills and performance. Within those 3 components are numerous skills that must be learned and absorbed into daily living. They include message development from the perspective of both the sender and the receiver. They include personal development skills such as decision-making, time and money management, leadership. They include learning how to inspire a performance in all of its aspects. These examples only scratch the surface of the knowledge to be gained and the skills to be acquired.
We are so easily thrown off track in our quest to live a life that is fulfilling to us. Ego, jealousy, misunderstanding, excessive competition, overreaction to unfortunate experiences and following misleading influences all contribute to delayed or unrealized fulfillment.
As we work to construct lives that are fulfilling the question becomes how much of who and what we are can we control? What influences us more, nature or nurture? As written in Simple Psychology magazine, "Nature is what we think of as pre-wiring and is influenced by genetic inheritance and other biological factors. Nurture is generally taken as the influence of external factors after conception e.g. the product of exposure, experience and learning on an individual."
If we were fortunate enough to have grown up in a loving and nurturing environment, we have a leg up in constructing our life. If our early years were painful and frustrating, we can certainly construct the life we want. We just might need a bit more help and it may take a little longer.
Outfluence takes people where we find them developmentally. We help them to discover, or re-discover, their genius. Then we show them how to build on that genius and take it where they want to go.
"William McGirt, you just won the Memorial Tournament, your first win on the PGA Tour. How did you do it?"
"Well, I've been close several times before. I recognized that my tendency was to speed up when under pressure. So this week I focused on slowing things down."
We learn so much from the experiences of others. If we listen carefully, little nuggets like "tendencies under pressure" resonate loudly. Tendencies to speed up are the result of lack of confidence, inadequate preparation, insufficient knowledge of a subject, inexperience and other reasons. But I believe those four are the primary reasons why we tend to speed up when we are under pressure.
I remember early in my public speaking days I tended to speak very quickly. In my mind I tended to speak quickly because I had so much information to share, I was afraid I couldn't fit it into the time allotted. Really it was poor preparation.
Tendencies are great teachers. One of the things they teach us is that failure is the result of doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. In my case, after speaking publicly and not feeling good about the result, I spoke to some experts on the topic of public speaking, specifically about my concern, and they coached me to overcome my tendency.
Sometimes we just need the perspective of an outsider, an uninvolved third party, someone emotionally detached from the situation to look at what we are doing and voice an opinion. A good business coach will teach the principles of Constant Messaging© and Silent Communication from the perspective of the receiver as well as the sender which may uncover those tendencies before they cause more failure.
A business mentor once told me that when negotiating the wise negotiator will make a statement and then sit silently. The weak adversary will tend to feel the need to fill the air with words. Chances are he or she will reveal something in that moment that the savvy negotiator can use strategically later. Maybe what is revealed is simply the tendency to react too quickly.
So much happens in silent moments.
You Are Here ...Now What?, Outfluence's premiere program for high school students, has been part of the Anne Arundel County school system for five years. In this video, our co-founder, Kay Betz, sits down with Ms. Linda Lamon, South River High School's Signature Program Facilitator, to discuss the history and philosophy behind the program.
I remember as a kid always talking to ankles and knees when an adult approached to greet me. And then there was that awkward look up to try to see his or her face. As an adult I'm sensitive to that moment, so I bend down to get at eye level with a youngster.
Recently I visited the Gettysburg Battlefields and I felt a little bit of that looking at the ankles feeling as I looked at the base of large trees that surround portions of the grounds.
As we got to Cemetery Hill, we found ourselves atop the tree line, overlooking the battlefield, and what happened there became very clear.
As I reflected on the moment later, it got me thinking about how some of us conduct business today. You know ... a few years ago the "big thing" movement in business was to think outside the box. The battle cry was if you want to advance in your career, don't do what you've always done. That will just get you what it's always gotten you. You must think outside the boxif you want to move your business forward. So, business men and women began to look increasingly to technology for creativity in leadership and for new ideas in communication and in management. And now as we move to higher ground and we review where thinking outside the box has led us, we find that what's happening outside the box isn't all good, and in some significant areas.
For example, communication has grown exponentially digitally. Voice mail, email, text messaging, video conferencing, while great tools, have left younger entrants into the business world lacking in face-to-face communication skills. Leadership sometimes delivers bad news digitally, coldly, mercilessly to save difficult face-to-face moments. Teamwork is conducted in less than a civil manner often initiated by carelessly crafted e-mails. Here are some other thoughts about outside-the-box thinking.
A website called Lateral Action states,"The research evidence suggests that thinking outside the box fails to produce the expected creative solution. And far from being a hindrance, past experience and training can actually be the key to creative problem-solving."
So, before you think outside the box to create new solutions to age-old problems in business, take a look from a higher perspective. Like experience maybe? Training is a good idea, too. It just so happens that Outfluence is conducting a 3-part series this Fall in Westminster, Maryland that will address this question: What did we leave behind when we began thinking outside the box? Visit Outfluence.com in a few weeks when we will begin publishing information about the series. It begins in September.
This event occurred in the Fall of 2016.
I read an article this morning about robotics. It is estimated that 30% of the workforce in Europe will be replaced in the next 20 years. The United States will face the charge of the robotics brigade, too. A number of restaurants are already considering the move to robotic servers. Even lawyers are not immune to robotics entering their world. This article will tell you more. You can also find it here, http://bit.ly/1YZ3zUa.
If and when this move to robotics occurs in what I call the regular workplace, in other words the middle class, opportunities for humans may become limited, and those opportunities that are available will demand ever-increasing amounts of skills. No longer will humans be able to climb the ladder from entry level positions to higher-paying positions over a number of years. In the future humans will need to advance their skills and look sideways for advancement. This will require excellent communication skills and inspired performance every day.
I listened to the McDonald's robot accepting a service order from a customer. The robot was polite and helpful, and even had a smile on its face. The robot's designers seem to have built into the robot soft skills very often found lacking in their human counterparts. I must say I was pretty impressed by what I was seeing from this early version. What could possibly be next?
My grandchildren, your grandchildren, and possibly some of your children will be facing robotic competitors in their workplace. Some humans are already sharing the workplace with robots. The jobs the robots take will likely be gone from human attainment forever. So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a highly technical, very competitive workforce. Skills such as effective communication of all kinds - oral, silent, written, body language - and inspired performance that gains an advantage for its practitioner - as well as the Outfluence form of teamwork called The Silent Storm will be sought after by employers. The unprepared, uncaring, disinterested employees of today will not, are not now, being tolerated. The move is afoot to change.
Many park benches, seaside lounges and oceanfront arcades will be filled with unemployed citizens who ignored the call to action this article is calling for. It's time to train yourself and your young family members communication and performance skills that will be needed to compete in the years ahead. Outfluence is offering community-based small group training to help you prepare for the changes that are arriving as you read this article. Contact us email@example.com for additional information.
If you are a business owner, you most likely receive a lot of unsolicited advice and unwelcome comments. You may also receive advice that you pay for. Who do you listen to and who do you ignore? I listen to all of them.
Here's why: The unsolicited advice and the unwelcome comments keep me motivated. Not too long ago I ran into a guy who went into business a few years after I began Outfluence. He took on a lot of debt and constructed an impressive facility for his business. He got off to a great start. The visuals were excellent. But now the doors were closed and litigation was looming. As we spoke, he asked me how my venture was doing. I told him we were still "climbing the mountain." He laughed and commented about how long we had "been at it." I chose not to incur outside debt in my venture but instead chose to invest time and personal funds to gradually improve my product and slowly position my company. I was still climbing while he had been derailed by debt.
Another person told me that his friends told him that my business would not succeed because I didn't have the ability to make it work. Now, how many times have you heard stories of successful people of whom similar comments were made? Oh, he'll never be able to do it; or, she's too weak to withstand the pressure. I chose to listen to successful people who were encouraging me to keep going, people who were leading me to resources that would support me, people who were where I wanted to be. Why would I listen to someone who was going south when I wanted to go north?
I have written before about my friend who counseled me that it sometimes takes 10 years for a business to reach maturity. I am in a business that requires others to make a commitment to change. Change does not occur quickly. It took us six years to reach maturity in our business. Most businesses fail in the first three years. Had Ilistened to the naysayers, I may have ended my business journey too soon.
Remember that clear vision you had for your business in the early days? Chances are your vision has been changed by circumstances, or opportunity, or market conditions, or knowledge gained over time. Listen to the marketplace, listen to your customers, listen to your heart, and persist. Never quit. Be open to change.
Listen to everyone but listen most intently to people who are where you want to go.
My mother grew up on a farm. She completed the 6th grade. She went to work in a textile mill. She was proud when she told me that she earned $6 an hour, and that her boss said that she could produce more than almost anyone else on the floor. After 25 years working in the mill, standing on a concrete floor, breathing in dust and fumes, she has COPD and pretty severe spinal issues.
All my sister and brother and I ever saw was dinner on the table every single night of our lives, a very clean house, and the tastiest pastries made from what she learned while watching our Austrian-born grandmother bake for decades before we were born. She supported us in our endeavors and always took pride in our accomplishments.
Recently she spent 2 months in the hospital. She was struggling to breathe. The family gathered around because we thought at 86 she wouldn't have the strength to win this battle. It was nip and tuck for a few days but then she began to come around. We knew that she would make it when she said, "I want to get out of here. There's nothing wrong with me. These doctors are just keeping me here so they can make more money."
My mother is a very simple woman. She enjoys being around family. Everything she did for us was done with love. She, and my dad, sacrificed comforts in their lives to enable their children to have better lives. That's what their generation is known for, and that's what they did.
If you can't be with your mother on "her day" this Sunday get with her soon. She could care less about the holiday. She only cares about seeing you.
(Happy Mother's Day from your friends at Outfluence, LLC.)
Stay close to your family. Silent communication principles of Outfluence can help to translate family dynamics before emotions get in the way. Silence is not just nothingness. There is meaning in silence. Stay close to family situations by learning to read silence.
Read often. Reading=knowledge=perspective=understanding=opportunity.
Make a friend. Smile, extend your hand, say hello.
Dream and pursue. Positive aspirations underwritten by strong belief and supported by hard work will bring dreams to fruition.
Respect your country. Perfection doesn’t live here but you and I do. Love, fight for, and respect your country and its citizens. Put your country and your neighbors first.
Build your foundation. Outfluence principles enable you to develop the intellectual, physical, and emotional strength to create a vision for your life and then build that life for you and for those you love. Stabilize your life by building a strong foundation.
Mentor someone. Use your life experiences to ignite another person’s passions.
Be a positive force. You reap what you sow.
Inspire your performance. “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.” - Steve Martin
Have faith. Believe that Outfluence behaviors and principles will energize your life and the lives of those around you.
In my opinion, we don't succeed in the workplace. We achieve in the workplace. Success implies that we have reached the end. We don't want to plant the idea in our mind that one success is the ultimate, that we have reached our capacity for success. We determine that we have succeeded when we are ready to end our workplace journey. At that time we can look back and determine our level of success. Until then we want to continue to achieve new things.
Dr. Ben Carson, author of Gifted Hands - The Ben Carson Story, writes that "Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”
To achieve in the workplace you must continue to meet your employer's or your customer's expectations in four areas:
1. Performance - find ways, large and small, to inspire those around you as well as to be a champion at your job.
2. Trust - every action you take should deepen your employer's reliance on you.
3. Consistency - be aself-starter, someone who understands the mission and knows what to do every second of every day.
4. Deliver peace of mind - be great at 1, 2 and 3.
The great actor, writer, comedian and musician, Steve Martin, when asked how to achieve in Hollywood, said, "Be so good that they can't ignore you." That's what an inspired performance is all about. Learn as much as you can about your job, expand your knowledge, become a leader by setting a good example and make yourself invaluable.
Prove that you can be trusted by silently communicating your core. Your employers and your customers will watch you carefully, just as you observe them, and they will determine by your actions whether you will earn their trust. Outfluence coined the term "Constant Messaging" which references the fact that everything we do sends a message to anyone within our sphere of influence. Learning to control your message while also being aware of the incoming messages of others is at the foundation of trust.
How can we consistently demonstrate our commitment to mission? Let's look at it from the perspective of an employer evaluating the value of a prospective employee. In my book Outfluence, the Better Way to Influence, I describe how NBA scouts assess a college player's assets. Here's what I wrote: NBA scouts have an interesting method of assessing a player’s assets. They ask five questions about a college basketball prospect:
1. Does he have a weapon? For example, the “sky hook” that Kareem Abdul Jabbar had in his day.
2. Does he have a position? Can he play either guard, center, or forward so well as to leave no doubt as to what position he should play?
3. Can he get his own look? In other words, can he work the court in order to get a shot at the basket from his highest percentage spot on the floor?
4. Can he defend his position? A player has to move his feet quickly in order to stay in front of his opponent and keep him from scoring, or at least to make it difficult for him to score. It takes commitment to play good defense.
5. Does he “get it”? Can he lead? Does he have a work ethic? Is he responsible? Will he be a team player?
You can make the same assessment about yourself. A prospective employer will want to know the same things about you that the basketball scout wants to know about a player. When making your personal assessment here are a few basic questions you will want to address:
1. Do you have a weapon? What makes you nearly impossible to replace?
2. Do you have a position? What’s your specialty?
3. Can you get your own look? Are you self-sufficient? Are you a self-starter?
4. Can you defend your position? Do you know your stuff? Can you express yourself?
5. Do you “get it”? Are you a responsible individual? Are you a team player?
These five questions get right to the heart of the matter, don’t they? To begin your assessment, make an honest determination of your attributes. Next, evaluate the requirements of the position to which you aspire. Finally, formulate a plan to fill in any gaps between your current attributes and the requirements of that position.
Peace of mind is what every employer wants every employee to bring to his or her business. Peace of mind can only be delivered by an individual who has developed a strong set of personal ethics, a person who is confident, aware, educated and is able to communicate well in any circumstance. The Outfluence program You Are Here . . . Now What? teaches high school students how and why to develop those attributes. We teach them how to persist in pursuit of their goals and we teach them the skills needed to complete the pursuit.
After initial success with his popular books for business professionals, Al Betz, creator of the Outfluence concept, dove into preparation for a new program: You Are Here... Now What? The program aims to guide high school students onto the path to academic and workplace prosperity. Ten years later, YAHNW has arrived.
"HE WHO ANGERS YOU OWNS YOU ." FATHER OF DOC RIVERS, NBA PLAYER AND COACH.
My wife and I were grocery shopping. A young boy was standing idly in front of a customer ticket-generating machine we wanted to access. My wife, in a gentle, friendly manner said "Excuse me, sir, may I sneak in front of you for a second?" The little boy looked up at her as he stepped aside, and she said "I like your hat." The little boy smiled and said thank you.
Now, this was a perfectly innocent exchange. The little boy learned how to interrupt someone in a positive way and he had a nice moment with an adult. The two adult women with him didn't see it that way. They looked at my wife with daggers in their eyes and, as the saying goes, if looks could kill . . .
This event occurred weeks post-Ferguson and days post-New York City, both locations having experienced police-involved deaths.
25 years earlier a similar incident happened to my wife in a grocery store. Two young children were shopping with their mother. My wife struck up a conversation with them. Their mother accurately interpreted the silent communicators of friendship and sincerity and she used her life experiences in a positive way and chose to recognize an opportunity for friendship. Those two children eventually graduated from college and became life-long friends of our family.
What are we passing on to our children? Are we passing on the mistakes of our predecessors or are we teaching them how to build on the blocks of success that have been achieved in the midst of fits of violent disharmony?
In our program for high school students titled "You Are Here . . . now what?" we teach communication from the perspective of the sender of the message as well as from the perspective of the receiver of the message, and we spend time discussing the art of crafting a message. We meet with the students for one hour per week. Communication is taught over an entire semester each of the four high school years. We cover communication in great detail, all types of communication, and we bolster it with activities. When we are finished, students are armed with the tools needed to accurately interpret messages and they are able to respond appropriately.
I will never forget a lesson learned early in life. An elderly gentleman told me, "Son, you will always get exactly what you're looking for." What he meant was if you are looking to pick a fight with someone you will find a reason to fight. If you are looking to overlook imperfections and make a friend, you will find a way to make a friend. The youngest among us are looking to adults as examples of how to live life. We are certainly not perfect examples. We make mistakes. Our children will learn our lessons, good and bad, as we pass them on.
For additional information about Outfluence, LLC or to learn how to bring You Are Here . . . Now What? to your high school, visit our Contact Page, and drop us a line.
YESTERDAY'S ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST TELLS THE STORY OF SCHOOL SYSTEMS THAT ARE COMING TO GRIPS WITH FAILURE AND ARE TAKING ACTION TO GAIN CONTROL OF WHAT OUR STUDENTS ARE LEARNING. THE OUTFLUENCE PROGRAM "YOU ARE HERE . . . NOW WHAT?" IS ON TRACK TO SUPPORT THE EFFORT TO PREPARE CHILDREN FOR COLLEGE OR CAREERS. THE PROGRAM FOCUSES ON PERSISTENCE AND COMPLETION, AND IN 24 90-MINUTE SESSIONS OVER TWO SEMESTERS, PREPARES STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS.
From the Washington Post:
"EDUCATION OFFICIALS in Maryland and the District had pretty similar responses to the release of test scores showing that most high school students in the two jurisdictions are not on track to graduate ready for college or careers. “Obviously, this is a cold shower. There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Maryland Board of Education member Chester Finn. “These results are not easy to see, and certainly we have a lot of work to do,” said D.C. State Superintendent Hanseul Kang. As sobering as the results are, they also must be seen as a credit to efforts to require new rigor in Maryland and D.C. classrooms and provide honest assessments of what students have learned.
The first results of testing on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC — geared to the heightened academic standards of Common Core — were released Tuesday. In Maryland, only 31 percent of studentsmet proficiency standards for Algebra I and 40 percent of students met the standard for 10th-grade English. In the District, 27 percent of students were proficient in 10th-grade English and 12 percent met standards for geometry. The dismal first-year results mirror the experiences of other states that switched to PARCC and had been anticipated by officials who nonetheless recognize the value of tests that accurately measure college or career readiness."
“Why are we here?” Maryland’s interim superintendent of schools, Jack R. Smith, asked. “Because we raised expectations considerably.” That inflated scores from previous state-administered tests did not reflect what graduating students need to know could be seen in the large number of students required to take remedial classes before they could enroll in credit classes at Maryland community colleges. And, as Maryland officials ruefully learned this week with release of scores on another national test, gamesmanship with the assessments does great disservice to the educational needs of students. Maryland was the only state to have falling scores on the Nation’s Report Card in both reading and math and in both grades tested; one factor cited was the exclusion in previous years of high percentages of students with disabilities or English-language learners who would lower scores.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) spoke about “a false sense of security” that was created by exclusion of these students. He could just as easily have been talking about how inflated scores from undemanding tests allowed students to coast through school and graduate without the knowledge needed for life. Maryland and D.C. officials are right in setting ambitious new goals for students, and these first-year test results, while disappointing, should not discourage those efforts.