Getting Started with the Values Framework

There are always multiple ways to approach an educational issue or reform. Too often, reforms are introduced into New Mexico with minimal thought about whether it is the right reform model for our state or if there should be significant modifications to make it work for us. The Values Framework was developed by the Learning Alliance to help us think critically and creatively, so that we can design education strategies that make sense for our communities and our children.

The Values Framework helps people engage in the inquiry process together, especially when they come from different cultures or have different perspectives. Given the multiculturalism within New Mexico—as well as the polarized political debate that often takes over reform discussions—a Value Framework can help spark respectful dialogue about what we can do, rather than  finger-pointing and distrust.

Consider the Values Framework outlined below as a starting point. You will probably want to add your own questions as you move forward. As you move through the guiding questions in the Values Framework think about the different places that you can find information:

  • Data as a Starting Point: What data are available from your district and school that can help you understand the current situation? What data aren’t being collected, requiring you to seek out other ways to understand the dynamics?
  • Research: What does the research say? What conclusions can be drawn from existing research about this educational issue in our state and community? What knowledge do we lack?
  • Perspectives:  Listen to people with different perspectives on an issues. How do they differ? How might we address the issues they raise?

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Achievement and Equity:  How Are Your Vulnerable Students Doing?

  • Gaps:  What are the size of the academic achievement gaps in your community?
  • Access:  Are some students unable to access education? Are all students able to have access to high quality instruction and challenging curriculum?

Asset-Based Innovation: What Good Stuff is Happening ?

  • Community Resources: What are the strengths in your community, districts, and schools? Is there an outstanding teacher or someone with expertise? Are there programs in your schools and community that seem to be making a difference in the lives of children, youth, and families? Are there schools in your community that are well respected, open to the community, and achieving positive outcomes for students?
  • National Resources: Are there examples of high achieving schools, strong policies, or effective practices in other states that could be valuable for improving education in NM?

World View: Multilingual & Multi-Perspective

  • Global Perspective: How might we draw on New Mexico’s internationalism to support our students while they build skills for thinking globally?
  • Multilingualism: How can we support and encourage our students to be fluent in multiple languages?

Holistic: Design Around Our Children and Their Lives

  • Engagement and Motivation: What do we need to take into consideration while engaging and motivating our students? How do we change the delivery of learning materials so that students see the relevance of this education to their lives?
  • Options and Opportunities: Are there dynamics in our children’s lives that might limit their access, such as a rural environment, adult responsibilities, or prohibitive costs of extra materials?
  • Supports and Services: How can we support students who need extra help, both in school and out of school?

 Respectful: Engage, Inquire and Explore

  • Engage: Who do you need to engage to ensure that the reforms will be respectful of the diversity within your community?
  • Tribal sovereignty – What issues need to be considered? What processes would be most valued by tribal leadership?
  • Children and families – What are their concerns and aspirations?
  • Teachers and educational leadership – What do they need to be successful?
  •  Employers – How can they be involved in shaping opportunities that are meaningful to their goals?
  • Inquire and Explore: How might you begin to explore your questions? Is there more exploration to do beyond New Mexico? Who is doing the best in other states? In other countries? If you have several different options, how can you explore their viability with strong engagement of different perspectives from your community?

Urgency: Design for Systemic Improvements

  • Vision: What is your vision for the children in your community? For your educational system? What might this look like in your school or district?
  • Urgency: What are the most urgent challenges identified by your community?
  • High Leverage: What are the most “high-leverage” solutions that your community can adopt to address these challenges? How can you support innovation and improvement? High leverage solutions draw upon existing assets, are innovative and cost-effective, and have the greatest potential to result in lasting change.
  • Pressure: How can you and your community keep pressure on educational leaders and policy makers to ensure that new reforms are sustained for the benefit of all students, particularly the most vulnerable?