PLEASE ROTATE YOUR DEVICE
February 19, 2020
School choice initiatives have led to increasing competition among public schools for student retention, and administrators stand to benefit from corporate strategy.
For better or for worse, today’s public schools aren’t your parents’ public schools. Gone are the days of strict district boundaries that dictate which local school students will attend. Various school choice options now permit students to cross district boundaries and attend their preferred public school.
A choice of which school to enroll in is likely welcomed by students and parents alike, who will be happy to pursue the school that best serves their needs. But school choice also has the potential negative effect of drawing attendance away from schools that might not appeal to selective parents, leaving some schools facing diminishing attendance and declining performance metrics.
School choice doesn’t just mean charter schools — it exists almost everywhere. Some states explicitly endorse school choice with measures like school choice vouchers, but school choice options exist in more traditional districts, too. In many states, accelerated students are offered a type of school choice in the form of out-of-district magnet school options. And, of course, private schools continue to offer an alternative for families who can afford them. School choice is making America’s public schools look increasingly like a free-market enterprise — and administrators need to understand corporate strategy to keep up.
Much like a business, the goal of your public school is to offer the best product possible to maintain a happy clientele. Your product is the education you provide, and your clients are your students and their families.
In an ideal world, public schools would be able to offer a high-quality education without having to worry about losing students to local competitor schools. However, the reality of an increasing number of school choice programs is that administrators must know how to operate their school with maximum appeal — not unlike the CEO of a business.
There are valid arguments against applying a business model too literally in schools — after all, research has shown that using value-added models for teacher evaluations is unstable at best. Encouraging competition between teachers can negatively affect school culture, trickling down to students and distracting from their learning. Furthermore, this kind of competition can be counterproductive when educators actually share a common goal.
However, one particular element of education would be well-served by thinking like a CEO — education technology. By approaching edtech the way a business might, schools can prioritize innovation, set themselves up for long-term success, and attract more students via school choice programs. Here are a few key ways school officials can tackle edtech decisions with the mindset of a CEO:
Today’s corporate leaders understand that leaning into innovation is key to survival in a competitive marketplace. The traditional leadership role of a CEO has expanded dramatically, and embracing new processes and technologies is a critical element of ensuring that your company is willing to accept change.
While the business landscape is certainly different from the education landscape, your students also deserve the best of what technology has to offer. Being open to promising edtech opportunities can bring efficiency, accessibility, and new avenues of collaboration to your schools.
Establish a Long-Term Plan
Once you’ve begun to think about the edtech initiatives you’d like to implement, it’s important to emphasize process and planning. While education can often lend itself well to lofty, idealistic goals, deploying new technology will require thoughtful investment and foresight. Before moving forward with any initiatives, schools should ask themselves the practical questions. What kind of ROI can you expect on a 1:1 device initiative? How often will software need to be patched and upgraded? What is the long-term viability of your current network infrastructure?
Even though school administrators are working for an altruistic objective as compared to for-profit businesses, it’s still crucial to follow a detailed plan for success. If you want your goals to become a reality, make sure you know how to get there.
Evaluate the Results
In the corporate world, it’s common to perform an evaluation every 90 days. At the end of each quarter, businesses review the progress made during the past three months, evaluate any bumps in the road, and set goals for the next quarter.
Quarterly reviews are also a great way to measure the impact of education technology. Just like a business, your school needs to understand where your investments are going. Edtech can be a highly effective way to incorporate personalized lesson plans and attract new students, but only if you’re seeing results. Evaluating progress at regular intervals is the best way to understand if your tech investments are paying off — and, if they’re not, how they can be improved.
Is school choice really what’s best for our students? The jury’s still out. But the reality of our current education landscape requires school administrators to keep up with the increasingly competitive nature of our public education system. As long as school choice exists, districts need to maximize efficiency and output in order to avoid being outperformed. To run the best possible administration in an educational environment that continues to look more like a business environment, school officials should all take some tips from the corporate world.
One thing the corporate world certainly understands is the value of a trusted partner. Engaging in an IT partnership can help your district implement the latest education technology without distracting from your students’ learning. Vinson offers IT managed services exclusively focused on the K-12 education market. Whether you’re looking to create a lifecycle management plan or overhaul your network for testing season, the IT consultants and technicians at Vinson can help.
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