Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What It Means for a School to Succeed

As is often the case, examining the practices of private schools can shed useful light on those of the public. Accreditors such as NEASC/CIS (the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Council of International Schools, which jointly accredit some of the world's best international schools), because they accredit both public and private schools and might be used to accredit that in-between hybrid, charter schools, offer useful insights of admirable flexibility for defining school quality. Importantly, they define success for the schools they accredit both in relation to each school's stated and possibly unique purposes and aims as well as more broadly applicable standards. The former may be idiosyncratic, and specific or even unique for each school; the latter are of more use for a general discussion like this. Synthesizing the accreditation criteria of these groups as well as of other outstanding education providers such as the United World Colleges and European Schools, I have come up with these, which I hope we will use to assess our own success at One World Secondary School and suggest might be used more broadly:  

I     Philosophy, aims and objectives
II    Governance and management
III   Staff
IV   Students
V    Curriculum
VI   Support for students
VII  Co-curricular and after-school life
VIII Resources
IX   Communications and community partnership

Determination of the extent to which a school is succeeding should be made by both the school community itself and outside inspectors looking at the school in relation to these broad criteria, and the various sub-categories (such as admission rules, under "Students" above) that comprise them, to assure themselves and the public at large that quality outcomes are being successfully attained at the school.

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