Make No Mistake: Schools are Accountable to Their Stakeholders for the Quality of the Learning. To the learners and their futures. To their parents/guardians. To the communities and cities within which those families live. To taxpayers. To our society’s future;
Accountability is a Mutual Contract. The contract between a society and its schools should have essential ingredients:
Society Agrees to Provide
Common Forest-level 12th Grade Curricular Endpoints: a fair society agrees upon what the desired K-12 curricular endpoints should be. While these endpoints include discrete skills, the common values of a society are reflected most at the forest-level: critically and creatively, how should a high school graduate be able to think and apply cognitive and social/emotional knowledge? What should that look like?
Educational Equity: a fair society agrees to fund its schools equitably.
Society’s Schools Agree to
Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment based on Common Forest-level 12th Grade Curricular Endpoints
Responsibly Administer the Equity Society Provides;
For the School, Business Models of Accountability do not Equate to the Assessment of Learning. Business Accountability Models within education, such as “Performance Management,” have co-opted the aforementioned scientific determinism. Within accountability mindsets, numbers are intuitively attractive. Numbers provide a sense of certainty within the uncertain. But, numbers cannot possibly represent the essence of learning; attempts to quantitatively represent the essence of the learning process are simply reductive lenses through which a learner’s understanding of a leaf, even striations within the leaf, are subjectively chosen and measured. This combination of Business Accountability Modeling built upon Scientific Determinism is incapable of apprehending the most important higher-order varieties and complexities of the learning process, the learner’s engagement and application of the forest. The education pendulum during the last twenty years has swung in the direction of this combination; regrettably, so have the results. Much more to come on this topic subsequently within the blog, especially regarding ways in which scientific determinism has a role to play;
The Center of the School’s Decision-making Processes must be the Learning Process. For the allocation of financial resources, the learning process must be the central focus. For the allocation of personnel. For capital improvements. For the co-curricular program. For the schedule. For the athletic program. For the parent clubs. For the governing and/or advisory boards. For the use of technology. For the food service program. Etc.;
The School Principal is Required to do Way Too Much with Way Too Little. The job description of the typical public school principal and the limited resources to accomplish that description prevent powerful, consistent instructional leadership and oversight;
However, Powerful School Leadership Understands the Tiniest Part of Learning. Powerful school leadership understands the interrelationships among the various elements of the forest, building the ethos of its leadership upon an understanding of those relationships, especially how the leaf (discrete skill) is related to the branch (topic) is related to the tree (subject or discipline) is related to the forest (the interrelation of all subject or disciplines, much like an ecosystem);
There are Two Kinds of Schools. A school is either a Growth School, disquieted about where it is and wanting to become more, or a Maintenance School, mostly content with its station;
Especially in Growth Schools, Powerful School Leadership Empowers. With clear goals and processes, powerful school leadership empowers and leads the vast capacities of the faculty and staff toward the continually improving achievement of its mission;
Some Quantitative Measures Reveal Lots about a School. Attendance rates. On-track-to-graduate rates. Transfer rates. Graduation rates. Passing and failure rates…;
Controversial Topics within a School. For any school, handling sometimes/often controversial issues like racism, race relations, sexism, socioeconomic differences, the sexual behavior of its learners, (cyber)bullying and violence, drug and alcohol use and abuse is, simply put, not easy. The school’s capacity to engage and respond to these issues will only be as strong and sincere as the school’s adult culture is able to be honest and open about such issues; and
Increasingly, the Economy’s Downward Tumble seems to be affecting Schools. Most palpably, those victimized appear to be the hopes and dreams of our more marginalized learners, those for whom school was an iffy proposition already.