CAIS Top 12

How diplomas based on skill acquisition, not credits earned, could change education

By 2021, students graduating from Maine high schools must demonstrate that they have reached proficiency in four core academic subject areas: English, math, science and social studies. Maine is the first state to pass such a law, though the idea of proficiency-based education is increasingly popular around the country as schools try to move away from the “industrial model” of education.

Why We Need to Change From Diversity to Inclusiveness

This article addresses the negative conatations of the word “diversity” and instead recommends that schools implement social and emotional learning (SEL) programs for students, which focus on inclusiveness. The article elaborates on the following five essential skills and competencies students should develop through SEL programs:
Social awareness
Relationship skills
Responsible decision-making

Integrated Curriculum: Why it Matters, and Where to Find It

In this LinkedIn post, Tom Vander Ark writes, “the drawbacks of a discipline-based approach have long outlasted the benefits. It dampens engagement, narrows learning and damages preparation.” He believes that tradition is to blame for the fact that 95% of high schools retain the discipline-based approach. His post outlines integrated schools, networks, resources and models that might be helpful to schools that are interested in offering interdisciplinary instruction.

Don’t Play with Dead Snakes – Kill Projects Before They Kill You

Richard Daly, CEO of global genomic data processing company DNAnexus, defines a “Dead Snake” as, “a project or feature you’re building that’s going nowhere.” Dead Snakes can drain resources and distract you from the most important work your team should be doing. He recommends that you learn how to recognize and dispose of Dead Snakes by:
Encouraging staff to fearlessly pursue opportunities by promoting a culture of “try it, and if it doesn’t work drop it and try something else.”
Reducing development cycle time by promoting early initiative and providing insurance against dead-end and failed initiatives.
Reducing fear of failure; changing the culture to a strong bias toward action.
Forcing an evaluative discipline that minimizes marching further into a failing initiative.
Also worth a read: How School Heads Can Improve Meeting Efficiency

Success Academy Launches Online ‘Education Institute’ to Share Curriculum, Professional Development

This week, Success Academy launched a free online portal, which offers access to the curriculum and teacher development strategies employed at its 41 schools in New York City. The online platform currently offers the charter network’s literacy curriculum for kindergarten through fourth grade.
CAIS PD is online all the time. You can check out our past webinars here.

Happy Teachers Practice Self-Care

Since children learn social-emotional skills through being exposed to adult behaviour, experts believe that teachers’ social-emotional competencies, especially their stress-management skills and their ability to regulate their emotions, are crucial.

Also worth a read: How gender intelligence affects a company’s bottom line

How to Make Your Website Prove You’re Worth it in 7 Steps

The article features five independent school websites, all of which prove to visitors that they provide a different educational experience, and recommends that your website use proof points to do the following:
Show the benefits of an independent school education
Show why you’re different
Show what you stand for
Show outcomes
Show proof points
Show answers to tough questions
Show why you’re better than the competition
Follow the Journey: Making Communications Decisions Less Daunting, More Effective

The author of this NAIS article focusses on the role that emotions play in driving major decisions and stresses that most communications elements can be used to effectively convey emotions as well as deliver facts. The article also features several great infographics.


The Enrollment Management Association surveyed their members to compare their 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons. Some key findings from this quick survey include:
More member schools show increases rather than decreases with inquiries, apps, and enrolment but almost 21% of day schools show slight decreases in enrolment, while boarding shows slight increases in enrolment.
84% of all responding schools enrol F-1 visa holders (international students), including 76% of responding day schools.
Compared to the overall enrolment data, international inquiries and international enrolments are slightly down.
Only about one third of boarding schools said the number of inquiries from China was “about the same” while 39% saw a slight decrease.
Boarding school inquiries, applications, and enrolments from Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Korea also showed shifts, primarily downward.
You can view the executive summary in CAIS Connect (scroll down to Enrolment Management). Thank you to Heather Hoerle, Executive Director and CEO of the Enrollment Management Association for sharing this valuable resource.

A fun read: Williamson student writes about pizza, gets into Yale University

Managing a crisis at your school

It is crucial that all schools have a Crisis Management Plan. This article provides questions to ask to identify a potential crisis and elaborates on the following top tips for managing a crisis at your school:
Get the facts straight – what is known and what is hearsay.
Create a detailed narrative and have this approved by the leadership team.
Use this narrative as a source for all communication.
Write a Crisis Management Plan that is specific to your crisis. This can be done by using your existing plan and updating the relevant information.
Have one dedicated spokesperson to speak for your school.
Rehearse any likely stakeholder questions and answers.
Choose your words carefully and be aware of your delivery.
Communicate with your stakeholders before things get heated.
Monitor all media and social media.
Keep your school staff informed.

Canadians’ household “wealth” is increasingly built on debt

Canadians are getting more and more comfortable carrying large amounts of debt. The combination of ultra-low interest rates and rising housing prices has allowed consumers to binge on borrowed money, including from friends and family. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, 69 per cent of household debt in Canada is made up of residential mortgage debt, while 18 per cent comes from lines of credit and five per cent is credit card debt.

Staunton family challenge accreditation of Jackson Heights private school, claim the school failed to investigate circumstances behind their son’s death and withheld vital information

The parents of Rory Staunton have filed a formal complaint with the New York Association of Independent Schools challenging the accreditation of the Garden School. Following a cut that he got playing basketball at school, Rory contracted sepsis and died. His parents said that the school did not have protocols in place to ensure that cuts were treated properly and the staff was not made aware of the potential dangers of these types of wounds.

Designing School Facilities That Enhance Mission

This Net Assets post looks at the Blue School, a New York City school developed by three founding members of the performance art company Blue Man Group. The school has undertaken mission-driven facilities remodeling of two different spaces for its elementary and middle school. The remodel includes the incorporation of technology, open and closed office space and student involvement in the redesigns.

School volunteers in Canada face varying rules for background checks

In the wake of reports that Karla Homolka was an occasional volunteer at her children’s’ school, Maclean’s looks at how criminal background checks for volunteers compare across the country.

This ISM article lists the symptoms of a toxic schedule and recommends taking these actions to help ensure that your schedule is designed for the benefit of the students:
Give your scheduler the power to make as many decisions as necessary.
Reorient your teachers at a faculty meeting on an annual basis, reminding them that you have empowered the scheduler to make decisions that are in the “best interests of the students.”
Make sure you minimize the use of part-time faculty during the hiring process and strategic planning.
Guarantee every student takes a lunch break.
Move your faculty culture toward collaboration.
Educate parents about the dangers of over-scheduling their children.
Review the overall schedule during any significant change
Clearly outline the number and types of courses students can take in your school policy.

CAIS Collaboration Grant recipient, Glen Downey, The York School, authored the book In Search of Lost Time: Reimagining Traditional Approaches to the Timetable, which brings together a combination of research, investigation, sketchnoting, writing, and 21st-century approaches to teaching and learning in order to show how schools can reimagine the way in which they go about making institutional change. You can order the book here.

When exclusive is inclusive

The Department for Education in England is backing a move to increase the number of vulnerable pupils being offered places at boarding school as an alternative to being taken into care. Schools seek out, and offer bursaries to, children with a “boarding need” and local authorities and/or charities pay for part of the cost. A child is considered to have a boarding need if their capacity for normal happy development is compromised by seriously adverse circumstances at home. The schools are selective academically, but the entrance tests assess potential, not attainment.