Monday, November 29, 2010

Interview with Dr. Willard Daggett

Dr. Willard Daggett
By Sam Piha and Michael Funk

Before founding the International Center for Leadership in Education in 1991, Willard R. Daggett, Ed.D., was a teacher, administrator, and director with the New York State Education Department, where he spearheaded restructuring initiatives to focus the state's education system on the skills and knowledge students need in a technological, information-based society. We caught up with Dr. Daggett at the Step Up high school afterschool conference in San Diego, where he served as keynote speaker. He agreed to answer some questions regarding the learning principles promoted by the Learning in Afterschool project. 

Q: Can you talk about the role of afterschool in education? 
A: Learning in afterschool provides a valuable resource to extend the educational experience of students. We at the International Center for Leadership in Education have identified through our extensive research that for students to maximize their potential, their educational experience must be both rigorous and relevant. The afterschool program provides valuable relevant experiences that help students become engaged in a meaningful way, ultimately leading to success in both school and life.

What do you see as the unique contributions that afterschool can offer those who are seeking to improve youth academic and developmental outcomes? 
A: During the school day, students are exposed to academics that are important that they master to be successful in school and in life. The reality, however, is that unless students can see relevance to what they are learning and become personally engaged in the learning process, they will seldom achieve success in their academic programs. Afterschool programs provide both this relevance and personal involvement so critical to learning.

Q: Which of the five Learning in Afterschool learning principles do you think are important in efforts to reengage young people in their education?
All five principles are critical. They collectively provide the relevance so desperately needed for students to become engaged and for learning to become alive for them. They also provide the deeper understanding and the discovery of learning that is critical for success in school and life.

Q: Are there important trends in school reform that afterschool program leaders should keep their eye on? 
A: Thirty-eight of our 50 states have agreed to adopt a new set of Common Core State Standards over the next three years. Accompanying these standards will be a series of new assessments that are both more rigorous and, equally as important, application based. The afterschool programs will provide the application of those academic skills that will be essential for students to be able to be successful on the new assessments. 

Dr. Daggett is CEO of the International Center for Leadership in Education and is recognized worldwide for his proven ability to move education systems towards more rigorous and relevant skills and knowledge for all students. He has assisted a number of states and hundreds of school districts with their school improvement initiatives. Dr. Daggett has also collaborated with education ministries in several countries and with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association, and many other national organizations.

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