Aspen Board of Education’s mind-set lacks progress |

Aspen Board of Education’s mind-set lacks progress

Evidence that mindfulness is an important aspect of developing well-rounded students that will be successful in today’s world is widely accepted and it is something Aspen School District promotes and practices in the classroom. Understanding this, I wanted to pose the questions as to whether the Aspen School District Board of Education is leading by example with a growth mind-set.

A key element of success in the mindfulness philosophy is having a “growth” mind-set. One of the key aspects of a growth mind-set is that when a person or organization is not meeting some measure of expectation or benchmark, they look for examples of people or organizations that are doing better to learn from them. People and organizations with a fixed mind-set choose to look at those who are not doing as well to justify their performance.

When I look at the Aspen Board of Education and the evidence of success they reference, I see a trend of a fixed mind-set. For example, stating that we are doing better than the state average in one statistic or another (fixed), but not asking how can I be as good as those are performing the best (growth). Communicating that 71 percent of the respondents in the community survey stated that they agree or strongly agree that the District is preparing their child for success after graduation, but not asking why isn’t this 100 percent (growth)? To further understand this satisfaction number, you can calculate a net promoter score, a common metric used in businesses to compare and measure satisfaction across industries, the results is 42 (71 percent promoters minus 29 percent who are not). As a reference, the airline industry has a score of 38; the education industry average is 63. Shouldn’t our community be a lot more satisfied with our schools than the airlines? Fixed mind-set again.

In the Oct. 30 BOE meeting there was a lot of discussion around standardized testing and whether this is a valid measure of performance for the ASD and that maybe we should not use them to measure performance. When ASD was performing well in standardized testing we supported it as a valid measure that supported our qualification as a “high performing” district. Now that we are struggling, instead of looking to learn from those who have succeeded through these changing times at this measure (there are plenty of high performing districts doing just fine), we are questioning its validity, again a “fixed” mind-set.

As with everything, our children learn from what we do, not from what we say. We need to lead by example and develop a growth mind-set in the BOE. When you cast your vote, I would also encourage everyone to vote with a growth mind-set and think about how great our schools could be and not vote with the “fixed” mind-set or the status quo that we are “good enough” as many have suggested. Vote for Jonathan Nickell and the other candidates that have stated we can do better.

Finally, regardless of the outcome of the election, I encourage the BOE to lead by example and move from a fixed to a growth mind-set for the benefit of our children and schools.

Jonathan Nickell