TWO MILLION MINUTES
Every teacher in every U.S. classroom makes decisions that impact students' futures. Three of the most important decisions are 1) what degree of rigor should I include in the content that I teach, 2) which students will I expect to reach that degree of rigor, and 3) how much time and energy will I expend to help those students achieve at that level of rigor? The manner in which teachers answer these questions will impact what they teach, who they teach, how they teach, and how hard they "push" those students to learn.
The American Student Achievement Institute asks schools and communities to bring together all teachers and all students, along with representatives of parent groups, businesses, and community organizations to discuss these questions. We want each person to come away from these local discussions with a personal reason for raising academic achievement coupled with a relentless commitment to doing whatever it takes to help all students achieve at a high level.
People engage in the work of raising student achievement for different reasons. Some people work to raise student achievement simply because of federal or state government mandates (e.g. No Child Left Behind). From our experience, when this is the only rationale for raising achievement, people tend to do the least amount of work possible to meet the outside requirements. Other people work to raise achievement because of a commitment to social justice. These people are motivated by disaggregated achievement data that shows groups of students (e.g. low income students) who are not achieving at levels equal to their peers. For others, the rationale for raising student achievement stems from 1) a genuine caring for the community's young people, 2) an understanding of global economics, and 3) an understanding of the level of academic rigor expected of students in other countries, especially China and India. We have found that when these three components are in place, a great sense of urgency develops that propels teachers, parents, and communities to join forces to concretely define high standards for achievement and strategies for helping all students meet those standards.
We believe Two Million Minutes is a wonderful tool for opening (or revisiting) a local discussion about global economics and academic rigor. We are happy to share the resources we have developed to help schools and communities from across the country facilitate screenings of Two Million Minutes. It is our hope that Two Million Minutes will create a sense of urgency for change coupled with energy for action in American schools and communities.
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