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You’re the Expert: School Quality and Success

Gone are the days of relying exclusively on standardized assessments to measure school quality and student success. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) offers schools and districts new flexibility in thinking about how they measure schools.

In our latest edition of “Teacher Voices: You’re the Expert” we asked teachers: What is the most important indicator of school quality or success?

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More than one quarter of survey respondents indicated that a measure of school climate and culture is the most important indicator of how well a school (and presumably, its educators and students) is doing.

Emma elaborates that “classroom climate and culture is the most important indicator of school success.  Students must be in a positive, caring climate to achieve total success.” Jemelleh agrees: “Students should feel safe and challenged. Schools should be places where knowledge is created and shared.”

ASCD reports that schools with positive cultures promote both academic growth and healthy development. Additionally, when schools have positive climates, their teachers are more likely to continue working there, something else that increases student success.

Recent research shared in the Harvard Business Review indicates that two keys to school improvement are improving school leadership and improving student behavior and motivation – factors that deeply impact school climate and culture.

While there isn’t a consensus about exactly how to measure school climate, The National School Climate Centerrecommends that indicators like physical and social-emotional security, respect for diversity, and school connectedness should all play a factor in figuring out how healthy a school’s climate and culture are.

Adding an additional indicator of school quality or student success, like information on teacher qualifications (selected by more than 13% of respondents), as mandated by ESSA will provide more robust and meaningful data for educators, families, and policymakers – data that will help them partner in efforts to drive increased student learning and success.

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See all editions of “You’re the Expert.”