Field Kindley’s Own… Randy Watson

Field Kindley’s Own… Randy Watson

Coffeyville and Independence are bitter rivals.  I spent
junior high and one year of high school learning that above all other goals
came beating the Field Kindley ‘Nado.  If I had any eye-hand coordination, height, or
skills maybe I would have tried out for basketball and known some members
of the ‘Nado team. (Instead of wearing a singlet and studying the lights in
every gym in the SEK.) Then I might have recognized the kid from Coffeyville
who was at all the Church Camps we went to, the C-ville guy who was always trying
to date girls from Independence, as future Kansas Education Commissioner
Randy Watson. 
From high school, Watson took his basketball skills to KSU, was
rejected in his first practice by Rolando Blackmon, and decided to focus on the
books.  I went to school down the road to the east, and focused on, well,
college life.  Randy and I didn’t cross paths again until later in our
education careers, and it wasn’t until we became Facebook friends that we
realized we were bitter rivals for the same dates to high school dances.
A few years ago, when I was superintendent at Emporia, our
community set forth on a strategic planning process for our schools.
 Sometimes you get just the right group of people, a great facilitator,
and the process really clicks.  That was the case in the Emporia process.
 We were only flummoxed once, when we discussed the subject of how to
measure success.  There was a strong feeling among the group that test
scores were not the answer, but we knew that NCLB was requiring improved test
scores.  We discussed simply telling the Feds we didn’t care about their
assessments, but in the end, we complied and our goals became about test
scores.  A more visionary leader would have looked for a better answer.
A few years later, a more visionary leader asked the
community of McPherson what they wanted for their kids after graduating from
high school.  As you might imagine, no one said high test scores.  They
said college, career, and citizenship are what are important.  Educators
know the rest of the story.  The only NCLB waiver granted to a school
district in the country and a system focused on the outcome of adult success instead of test
scores.
Recently, I was at a meeting where we were discussing what we
want for our kids, and Senator Steve Abrams said that test scores are not
outcomes.  For twenty years I have thought of test scores as the outcome,
so I immediately went on the defensive.  Of course test scores are
outcomes… but are they? Randy Watson explained it to me- test scores are
inputs.  They are just one piece that contribute to the outcome of a student
who is college, career, and citizenship ready.  
Who knew that a Coffeyville ‘Nado would have the
courage, determination, and vision to show this old Bulldog a new trick? It is
time to rethink outcomes in Kansas, and focus on what it takes to make a
successful adult, not just test scores. Randy is touring the state the next few
weeks, asking people to help build a vision for Kansas education by defining
what we want in a successful adult.  I look forward to working with all
Kansans to build that new system and I encourage you to do your part.  

Attend one of the meetings. Let Dr. Watson know what you
think.