Currently, I am reading "Accountability for Learning" by Douglas Reeves. In his book, Reeves describes the concept of holistic accountability and finding antecedents of excellence in schools and instruction. He also talks of the test results that we so often use to judge students, teachers, administrators, and school performance: he describes these as the "educational box score", very analogous to the box score that I read on so many morning over my breakfast cup of joe. Reeves says:
"Why do we reduce the art and science of teaching to a litany of test scores? The easy response is to blame a cabal of politicians and administrators, or to expand the conspiracy theory to include big business and the entertainment industry. But the role of victim is unworthy of the teaching profession, and we must do better. Why has accountability been reduced to a litany of test scores? Because WE have failed to tell our story."
I could not agree more with Douglas Reeves. I moan about the Fraser Institute Reports because they are not remotely representative of what schools actually do--they use some complex formula that combines test scores, parent socioeconomic status, graduation rates, and the cycle of the moon (ok, the first three were true, the last one I am only guessing on because of the FI's degree of accuracy). Provincial exam scores drive me crazy because they are such a narrow measure of a student learning. I can only imagine my counterparts in the United States and their frustration with standardized testing.
But what am I using to tell the story of our school? Test scores and failure rates. Not good enough.
In his book, Reeves suggests a number of items that could be included at the school level, including measurable practices in
- parent involvement
- extracurricular activities
- school based indicators that reflect decisions of teachers, parents, and administrators
After reading his book, I realize that I cannot continue to publish the box score for my school. While test scores and failure rates are positive for our students, they do little to describe the successes that I see every day in our students and in our staff. I need to change this. I have to work collaboratively with each of the stakeholders in our school to find the antecedents of success, and then use these to tell the story of our school.
So my question to investigate is, "What are the key descriptors of success at my school?"
What are yours?
Reeves, D (2004). Accountability for Learning. How Teachers and School Leaders Can Take Charge. ASCD. Alexandra, VA.