I always enjoy talking to Kurt Madden, and learning more about his progress and vision for Fresno Unified School District. They're making significant strides with regards to the use of technology and its potential impact on student achievement in the classroom.

I met up with Kurt at our recent U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit (see my blog about the event here). We got into a conversation around how we think the district can use their advantage and their thinking with regards to data on the students to really optimize the curriculum model for students beyond just grades.

I think Kurt recognizes that education has the responsibility to focus on core employability, workforce readiness and preparedness, and it's something that doesn't start in college. It has to start in the K-12 environment where skills-based assessment and context can be incorporated to the learning environment very early on, so students can not only build a portfolio of skills that they'll expand and grow lifelong, but they'll start to see more relevant connection between the skills that they're building for life and the education environment that they're dealing with today.

In many ways you're able to get there with better use of data, better use of current curriculum and modules to really make sure that you can not only refine assessment and pinpoint areas of focus for student achievement, but really identify skills that can be enhanced over time and their reflection on the overall curriculum progress. At this point in time, it's not necessarily an either/or environment in terms of moving from traditional content and assessment to skills-based competency assessment…it’s both.

In the video below, Kurt and I talk about what you can do with a more efficient management system and use of data, and how Fresno is working towards all these goals.