Partnership For Learning
Tom Vander Ark
Tom Vander Ark

EVENT: Seattle, Spokane events cover needs of modern education system

Real Learning for Real Life Conference Materials:

Tom Vander Ark (Keynote Speaker): Presentation
Doug Sovde (Common Core): Presentation
Dean Allen (Job Skills Gap): Seattle, Presentation
Mike Kluse (Job Skils Gap): Spokane, Presentation
REPORT: Expanding Our Expectation
REPORT: Great Jobs Within Our Reach (Job Skills Gap Fact Sheet)

Tom Vander Ark, CEO of GettingSmart, and a national expert on technology and innovation in education, opened his first keynote presentation with this: "I've never been so excited about kids learning at high levels."

Vander Ark was keynote speaker for two half-day events in Seattle and Spokane presented by the Washington Roundtable and Partnership for Learning. The events, titled "Real Learning for Real Life," focused on the needs of the 21st century education system. Prior to the events, Partnership for Learning released a report, "Expanding Our Expectations,"  on Common Core State Standards in Washington. 

The intent of the conference was to raise awareness among Washington's employers and educators of key education issues in our state and to build support around three critical issues: the job skills gap, Common Core State Standards and the importance of college- and career-readiness. All three issues are crucial to the stability and growth of our state's economy.

Vander Ark's presentation focused on what school districts could do now to create innovative schools, and what employers could do to be more involved in the education system. He talked about the importance of students seeing more personalized instruction to be more prepared for college, work and life.

"I'm excited about seeing more personalized instruction in this decade," Vander Ark said. "You'll see more small group instruction."

The conference featured two breakout sessions. One session examined the state's job skills gap crisis. Dean Allen, CEO of McKinstry, and Mike Kluse, Laboratory Director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, presented on the issues in Seattle and Spokane, respectively.

Said Allen: "Careers are journeys and how do we get our kids on that journey? Why we're so excited about Common Core is it set high expectations. ... We all have different opinions (about education reform), but what we should be focused on is the goal line."

Allen also said it's important for the business community to be involved in K-12 education. "Maybe we should do a better job of communicating how businesses can get involved," he said.

Kluse's presentation focused on STEM (science, technology, education and math) education in Washington and his company's involvement in promoting and developing more STEM centers.

Doug Sovde, a former teacher and principal in the Bellevue School District, presented on Common Core State Standards. Sovde, in his current position at Achieve, helped author the Common Core math standards. He recently appeared on NPR discussing Common Core math standards.

Sovde first dispelled the myth that Common Core is a curriculum and tells teachers how to teach students.

"Common Core is not a curriculum," he said. "They are expectations for students. There is not a national curriculum and there never will be."

All presentations for these two events are available above.