What makes a school successful?
One of the challenges with education is that we are not measuring the things that matter the most. The decades-long standardized testing movement has failed to close the equity gap in education, which was its entire intent. So, where does that leave us?
We have an opportunity to redefine the purpose of school, and concurrently step back as a society and look at what we are doing to our children. Many common school practices are actually harmful to kids: inducing anxiety, creating a culture in which kids feel anonymous or silenced, and rewarding compliance over setting the stage for students to engage in authentic problem solving challenges.
Here’s where this “redefining” can begin – with a comprehensive dashboard for success that measures four categories:
At our pilot school, Acera, we start every year with non-stressful qualitative assessments to get a snapshot of where kids are in September – in reading, math, emotional intelligence and perspective taking, conceptual and complex thinking skills, awareness of others and collaboration – and then, along with parental listening conferences in September, core classroom teachers develop an individual learning plan and pathway which is uniquely suited to each child’s current readiness, learning profile, needs, and interests.
Now, through the support of a grant, AceraEI and Pyne Arts are embarking on a three year, whole school engagement project. This school transformation effort is designed around Pyne Arts’ needs and goals, and will set the stage for growth in student’s conceptual problem solving skills, creativity, and initiative.
The multi-year project includes implementation of a School Success Dashboard, which will measure not only standard achievement, but also student core capacities, evidence-based learning approaches, and overall student wellbeing within a positive school culture. Through this whole-school approach, students will become confident, creative, systems thinkers who are the best version of themselves, in a 21st century world – adaptable, purpose-filled, and fearless.
We can improve our schools and our kids’ educational and childhood experiences. There are myriad ways to do this, and teachers know how. We simply need to get the rules out of their way, and set new goals for schools.