Monday, June 10, 2013

Is Your School "Successful"?

Way back in 1997 when we were considering moving back to Indiana to my husband's hometown one of the reasons for choosing this town was because, while the local elementary schools were great where we lived, our kids were moving into middle school and I wasn't thrilled with what I knew (or thought I knew) about the middle and high school.

My views were that there was no sort of "be true to your school" feeling. High school events were well attended, sports teams sometimes didn't have enough players to field a team, the school just wasn't the hub of the community.  Since this was "pre-internet" I went to the library and checked out the Places Rated Almanac and my fears were confirmed around the data they reported for the school, too.

I was happy to be moving to Indiana to a community known by everyone here as "a great place to raise kids".  We often heard things like...

  •  You don't have to lock your doors.
  • Kids ride bikes everywhere, with no fear.
  • They can fish at the hospital pond.
  • On Friday  night everyone is either at the football field, or at a basketball game, depending on the season. (Go ZEBRAS!)
So did that make this a successful school system?

After we lived here for a bit, I actually checked out THIS school system in the Places Rated Almanac and guess what? They had pretty much the same data/test scores/grad rate as the town we left.  

So was one school more successful than the other?

Flash forward to present day and I am happy to say I consider this school (the whole system here) a success!  (It's been a journey undertaken by a lot of great people, but that's another blog post!) A few reasons might be...

  • They are on a path of continuous improvement and reflection
  • They have embraced project based learning
  • They do technology integration really well and are always looking ahead
  • Of course, fantastic dedicated teachers who, even if the face of year after year of budget cuts always find a way
  • The administrators work as a team & the school board is a part of that team
  • Many active, engaged parents & community members
My colleague @PaulSCurtis wrote a blog about school success and the rubric that New Tech Network is sharing. I really like it as a measure, it goes so much deeper than the newspaper headlines we see each year ranking schools by test scores alone.

We are going to be discussing and trying to define "school success" at this week's #PBLChat Tuesday June 11th at 8pm. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts! Join us for the chat!

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