College Readiness Symposium

Education Service Center IV in Houston hosted a college readiness symposium on Nov. 5, 2012 for more than 300 educators and administrators. Speaker Bill Daggett, founder and chairman of the International Center for Leadership in Education, used the morning session to engage attenders by shedding light on the past, present, and possible future of public education in America.

Daggett presented a compelling case for curriculum relevance and rigor, and the creative use of technology in classrooms, providing global and national context with research and historical data.

(Download the keynote presentation [PPT, 8.1 MB].)

Partnered with Jim Collins, author of the 2001 best-seller Good to Great, the center identified the "25 most rapidly improving elementary, middle and high schools in America" in order to observe their unique methods and cultures. This study is funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and it provided much of the information Daggett shared in the symposium.

The schools identified and studied were not found to have similar policies or operation strategies; however, they had several characteristics in common. 

The 25 most rapidly improving schools were found to be "unrelenting in having a dual vision in what school was about: preparing kids for college and for career," Daggett shared.

They also have "fewer, clearer, higher" standards, he said.

Daggett emphasized that the necessity for higher standards is not coming from teachers or administrators, but from business and the demands of an increasingly competitive and global world.

"We have misdiagnosed the problem," Daggett said. "It's not the college issue that's going to get us; It's the career issue."

He encouraged educators to embrace technology, skimming through several game-changing technologies and Web developments that will hit the market as well as be in the hands of students as soon as next year.

"We need to change, not because schools fail, but because the world is changing," Daggett said. "And the world is changing because of technology."

He urged schools to implement Web-based essay-grading programs to help raise the level of rigor without demanding more of teachers.

"Computer-based scoring of essays enables us to have kids write two pages a day in every class," Daggett said, pointing out the gains in grading efficiency and consistency this would yield.

"The highest-performing schools use technology fundamentally differently," he said.

To learn more, visit the International Center for Leadership in Education at, or download his keynote presentation [PPT, 8.1 MB].

Written by Alicia Wilson