How do communities define school success?

Last week in a session at the Iowa Association of School Boards annual conference, we were asked how our communities defined school success. Superintendents and school board members started voicing their mission and vision statements, which sounded quite lofty. I chimed in that, despite our school systems’ rhetoric, the reality for most community members probably was quite different.

I’m guessing that for most of our schools, most of our community members define success as 1) test scores, 2) whether most kids graduate, and 3) good sports teams.

What do you think?


6 Responses to “How do communities define school success?”

  1. Scott, you are probably righton defining school success. But lets not settle for that.

    Mr Boutin is right on the mark in my mind, except I would reverse the order to reflect progression of students once in real world.

    My question to this community is what are we going to do about this subject?

    How could we get just 5% of each community and their students behind this proposal? Once we get to 5% we will move another 5.

    What are your ideas?? We can’t be complacent about this subject can we?

    Here is one of my blogs close to this topic:

    Mike Schoultz

  2. I love the lofty rhetoric from the school board. It should be lofty. For me the question is and has always been, how do we get the work within the school to be as lofty as the outcomes the board hopes for? What can the board, parents, community, and state and federal government do to see that is the case? What is the district’s role in identifying how that will happen and what they need?

  3. I agree with you, Scott, that school success probably relates to good test scores, graduation rates, and winning sports teams. The notion of fostering critical thinking is one way that I would also define a school’s success, although it would be an understatement to say that shifting the success grade from students’ high test scores to high critical thinking skills would be difficult.

    I am also curious about how the success of a school is related to the success of a teacher. How do we judge the successful educator? Often, it also relates to high test scores of students and high graduation rates of students. Again, an educator who is critically thinking about his or her pedagogy is not always the one deemed successful by the school, district, or society as a whole. Perhaps if we changed our vision of what makes a successful educator, it would then be possible to shift our measurement of school success as well. I wonder, though, if this goal is lofty as well.

    Thank you, Scott!

  4. Thanks for the comment, Mary. Just to clarify, I think that test scores, graduation rates, and sports teams are how communities judge school success, not how we should be judging school success. I’m more in agreement with James’ tweet above…

  5. The superintendent at our elementary school asked the community to come in and talk about the future direction of our school. These were our conclusions.

    Maybe it is because we are only K-8, but maybe parents care more about happiness and a well rounded child.

    1) Investigate foreign language possibilities
    2) Investigate scheduling that allows band & choir to be offered
    during the day
    3) Reinstate curriculum director (increase admin staff or Ass’t. Prin.)
    4) Increase access to technology for innovative teaching & learning
    5) Diversified teaching staff

  6. Unfortunately, I think you may be correct. Many community members (and the media!) see school success as test scores, graduation rates, and sports teams. I also agree with you that James Boutin’s tweet is much more in line with what real success is. The trouble is that these false indicators are much more visible and make better headlines. Critical thinking, social change, and community contributions are much harder to measure. The real question is how can the education profession change the perception in the media?

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