RealTalk From EdTalk 2017- Focused On Every Single Learner

EdTalk 2017 took place on Saturday morning. This is where Broward Schools reports out to the community about its performance in the past year, where the district is headed and why. And we, the education consumers, are asked for feedback.

This year’s event was at Hollywood Hills High School, rather than the Convention Center. The utilization of our own school buildings for this important community event nicely framed the conversation at hand. Students from various clubs greeted guests, directed them to hot breakfast and education vendors. And, students also filled tables and showed up on stage, giving honest testimonials and timely feedback.

2016-2017 Report Card

Broward Schools had a good year.

96% of schools earned an “A’, “B” or “C” grade.  95% of schools maintained or increased their letter grade. 39 of 41 schools maintained an “A” rating, while 18 more schools joined the “A” rating ranks bringing the grand total to 59 this year. But the biggest point of bragging is that only 2 schools in our district have “F” ratings compared to 10 in 2016 (not that any are ok). “D” ratings also fell from 29 last year to 6 this year.

Other notable achievements:

  • Broward has the largest debate program in the nation with over 1,200 Elementary, Middle and High school student’s participating.
  • With admittedly false-starts, the SMART bond appears to finally be on track for expenditure through its life cycle.
  • The district has the highest bond ratings in a decade from Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s.  That means they can finance projects for less and push those savings into other resources.

Focus for 2017-2018

“We need to pivot our learning to focus on the learner,” Dan Gohl, Chief Academic Officer. This year is all about the student. I know…sounds kinda obvious right? But, the idea is more about not just asking what our kids are learning, but HOW and WHY. And, are they happy?

Social emotional learning, and personalized and applied education took center stage. Personalized learning is defined as:

an educational model that seeks to accelerate student learning by tailoring the instructional environment–what, when, how and where students learn–to address the individual needs, skills and interests of each student. Students take ownership over their own learning while also developing deep, personal connections with each other, their teachers and other adults.

Basically, Broward wants to push innovation into every school and every classroom. It was eye-opening to hear students talk about being programmers, web developers, cartoonists, and trumpet players through innovative programs in their schools. They discussed how these personal experiences with learning have drove their leadership, made them more social, and “happier to be alive.”

Mickey Pope, Executive Director of Student Support, shared this video “Under the Surface”- Empathy Film to increase our awareness of all the social-emotional realities in the learning environment.

Fav Quotes from EdTalk 2017

“We want Broward County to be on the radar of the rest of the world”-Dan Gohl, Chief Academic Officer.

“We are not leaders of tomorrow. We are leaders of TODAY in the classroom, on sports teams, in band…”- Student leader.

“Kids are at your tables, listen to what they have to say!”- Student leader.

“We are Broward. We are bold. We are different. Don’t get it twisted…we are the BEST!”- Valerie Wanza, Chief School Performance & Accountability Officer.

What do you think?


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