I've written about our current narrow measures of learning, and Yong Zhao's list of quality indicators align well with what caring adults and professional educators know to be important.Expanding the definition of success of schools should not be limited to only outcome measures, because many factors affect student learning. How well students perform on a math test at a given time is affected by their own ability and efforts, their family environmnent, their peers, and their previous math learning experiences in addition to their current teachers and math learning. It is simply misleading and worng to use students' performance on tests to judge the degree of a school's success. A mnore just and useful way to judge the quality of schools is to assess the quality of input and hold schools accountable for providing the best educational environment for all students.
An input-oriented accountability system measures the quality of schools by looking at the quality of educational resources and opportunities they provide to each student. Rather than holding schools accountable for raising test scores, which is partly beyond the control of schools and teachers, we can hold schools accountable for ensuring that all students have the same high-quality educational opportunities.
Here is a sample of indicators of the quality of a school in terms of input:
- Physical Environment: Does the school provide safe, clean, and inspiring physical environment?
- Facilities: Does the school provide adequate facilities to support learning and development of diverse talents?
- Teachers: Does the school have a staff that is highly qualified and motivated to help students learn?
- Curriculum: Does the school impliment a broad and rigorous curriculum relevent to help students learn?
- Leadership: Does the school have strong leadership that inspires teachers and students to achieve their best?
- Innovation: Does the school encourage and support teacher innovation?
- Opportunities to be different: Does the school make arrangements to enable students who have different talents to pursue them?
For more on Yong Zhao's ideas on rethinking accountability, listen to this interview.