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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Highlighting Students’ Strengths as a Pathway to Success

by Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Gallup Education

As the White House hosts an “Education Datapalooza” today to showcase how data is helping address the massive challenges in education, I’m thrilled to announce that Gallup will play a critical role in getting our country back to winning in education.

As we struggle mightily to prepare today’s students for the unpredictable demands of tomorrow’s world and workplace, it is apparent that yesterday’s classroom won’t cut it. Though once a model for the world to follow, the U.S. educational system has slipped and we can’t seem to get back on the winning track.

Instead of focusing on what made us great and what natural strengths we possess that could make us great once again, we have done something very disturbing. We have focused on what’s wrong with our schools, our teachers, and our students. We’ve perseverated over deficits as opposed to assets.

For decades, Gallup has honed the science of “strengths” -- what we would describe as an individual’s innate talents, or consistently recurring thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This is very different from measuring skills or experiences and it’s far from a personality assessment. We have identified 34 distinct talent themes, making up a total of more than 33 million unique talent combinations that a person might possess. This means that every single student and every single teacher in our schools has a unique set of talents.

Through our online StrengthsQuest assessment, students in grades 6-12 can discover their unique strengths. And when they do, things change. Instead of being told what they aren’t doing well, they understand what they do best and how to aim those strengths at their school work and across their life’s trajectory.

As of today, Gallup will be making a student’s Top 5 talent themes available for download to their MyData source hosted by the U.S. Department of Education. Each student enrolled in public school who takes Gallup’s StrengthsQuest -- the student version of our famous StrengthsFinder -- can now use the MyData button to add their strengths to their personal educational record and profile, taking their Top 5 strengths with them across their educational journey and even their career journey.

The implications of this new development are profound. We talk a lot about the importance of delivering “individualized and personalized” education. There is no more fundamental level of individualization than a student’s strengths. It’s literally how these students are hard-wired. And if you build students’ educational experiences around their innate strengths, there is no limit to what these young people can accomplish.

Of all the research Gallup has conducted, perhaps the most important insight we’ve ever uncovered is this: The most successful people did not focus on trying to improve their weaknesses -- they became great in ways they were already good. If we get back to focusing on the strengths of our schools, teachers, and students, we will light up America. Gallup is going to do its part to unleash this force. We are honored to play a role in bringing powerful data to scale and to the benefit of our nation’s students.         


Bradley Stacks said...
December 12, 2012 at 11:59 PM  

Some students has lower abilities but I believe it can still be developed! :) And in my opinion, education online can play a huge factor on making the weaknesses into strengths.

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