The Power of Expectations


In a talk on Monday to the National Assessment Governing Board Education Summit for Parent Leaders, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that one problem the United States faces in terms of academic achievement is that our culture perpetuates low expectations in schools.

“We have to change expectations about how hard kids should work,” he said. “And we have to work with teachers and leaders to create schools that demand more from our kids.”

Time and time again, our experience in schools reiterate the value of high expectations.

“The expectation that every student in the school will be successful in college – emphasis on every – makes students and the adults in their lives move mountains,” said KnowledgeWorks’ Harold Brown.

When KnowledgeWorks partners with schools, we do it with the understanding that we – a collective we that includes our staff, school staff, students and their families – will have high expectations for all students.

After all, you will not implement a rigorous curriculum if you do not believe that students can master it. You will not talk about college or encourage and counsel students to apply to college if you do not believe they are “college material.” The culture change we need in many of our schools really comes down to changing what we expect from students.