Student achievement is often at the forefront of the minds of school leaders. Achievement, in the form of student data, inundates schools, teachers, and school improvement plans. Moreover, school improvement plans seem to hiccup when state assessment results are released. This data is generally looked at in the form of numerical values related to student achievement on state standardized assessments. If utilized correctly, analyzing student data may be beneficial for a school/district. Reviewing strengths and concerns may help allocate resources to areas of need. Regardless of the benefits, some school leaders and teachers often focus on the need to raise test scores in order to receive a positive rating from the state or district. That pressure can lead to anxiety and fear as student data is now being tied to teacher/principal evaluations.
I believe school achievement can be viewed through a variety of lenses. Even though the nation doesn’t necessarily measure the traits below, I feel that they are still valued.
How well does your school emphasize character? Some schools use programs, such as Character Counts, while others have deployed their own character curriculum. Discussing anti-bullying strategies and positive ways to cope with problems can be contained within this category. Emphasizing positive character traits can contribute to becoming more responsible in and outside of the classroom.
Are students allowed time to reflect on their own learning? Students that are given opportunities to review their achievement/behavior/study skills may set appropriate goals to better themselves. This skill will be used throughout their life. Is goal-setting important in your school? Can students analyze their own achievement and create appropriate goals? Setting and achieving goals often brings confidence and focus. Goal-setting can be emphasized at any grade level.
Does your school allow time for students to be creative? Does your school offer opportunities for students to be curious? Are student assignments geared to offer one solution or multiple solutions? I’ve found that curiosity often leads to creative thinking. Creative thinking is difficult to measure, but the value is immense.
Allowing feedback gives opportunities for stakeholders to offer input regarding changes that may benefit the organization. How the feedback is utilized may possibly advance a classroom/school/district’s vision. Using the feedback to better an organization shows value. Data in the form of feedback can be just as valuable as standardized assessment data.
Does your school encourage collaboration? Collaboration between staff, or collaboration between students? I would think it might be both. Is the classroom environment conducive to collaboration? Working together also encourages students to practice positive character traits.
I understand that not all of the skills above are measurable Understanding that school achievement goes beyond standardized assessment results is a step in the right direction.