How do you find a school that fits your child? Does a school need to fit your family values and ideals?
We are starting a school in an area that has one of the best ranked public school systems in our state. Of Wylie’s ISD schools, 100% met or exceeded TEA standards for the STAAR test. Three of Wylie’s public schools scored 10 on greatschools.org ranking system and six scored a 9. All others scored well at 7 or 8.
What’s Wrong With Using Rankings?
The trouble with using these rankings as a guide in choosing a school is that they are based on test scores. Recent research has shown that there can be inverse effect on a student’s test scores and their happiness at school. http://neatoday.org/2017/11/15/test-scores-happy-students/ When looking at the research, this began to make sense. In general, teachers who are effective in raising test scores tend to predominately teach procedural skills and test-taking skills. These same teachers, when observed, had very little inquiry-based learning or student use of higher order thinking skills which can be correlated to less student engagement and happiness. Among students with high test scores, depth of knowledge is questionable at best. Furthermore, a student’s attitude about school and education will continue to affect learning throughout the school years and into adulthood.
Is There A Better Way?
So how should we measure a school’s effectiveness? How do we hold teachers accountable? Schools need to adopt a measurement system that is as multi-faceted as the teaching profession. At Veritas Academy we will observe and measure what is important to us: student engagement on meaningful tasks, student attitude toward learning, a student’s feeling of acceptance in the community of learners, a student’s contribution to collaborative learning, a students depth of learning, a parent’s participation in support of the students and teachers, teacher collaboration and innovation, and a students individual growth across multiple domains.
For some students and families, the public school system may be a good fit. For others, a micro-school with a tight community of self-directed learners might be a better fit. When looking for a school, look closely at what they measure to see if your values align. A researcher/educator I follow, Bernard Bull, highlighted this very idea in his latest blog. http://etale.org/main/2017/11/19/show-me-what-you-measure-in-your-school-and-ill-tell-you-what-you-value/