‘Better ways to grade public schools’

November 14th, 2013 by 
Jack Schneider

In a recent opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times, Jack Schneider, assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross, adds insight to the seemingly unsolvable question of the best evaluation of public schools.  With recent pushes against the validity of standardized testings being the sole method of appraisal of a school’s success rate, Schneider and a colleague built an online tool for the Boston Globe, designed to evaluate all of the schools in Massachusetts in a more comprehensive way.  Drawing publicly available data, the two attempted to look at the schooling system more holistically, says Schneider.

“The tool we created is imperfect, and we were severely limited by the data available. Still, we were able to build a better mousetrap. And the project got us thinking: Now that waiver recipients can rethink how to evaluate schools, what would a truly robust measure look like?” questions Schneider.

Schneider also suggests that policy leaders should prioritize the collection of data that tell us “what it feels like to walk down a school’s hallway.” Noting Los Angeles Unified schools, for instance, have been conducting a “school experience survey” for the last several years. However, these problems of collecting data in a consistent and accurate way have limited the accountability of such studies.

While touching upon the importance of also measuring activities outside the academic classroom with examples such as art and music, he concludes, “In short, we should measure what we care about and not merely what is convenient.”

This “Holy Cross in the News” item by Jacqueline Smith ’15. 

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