Renewing America's Progress: A Positive Solution to School Reform

By Fredric H. Genck | Go to book overview

11
Performance: Pragmatic Measures of Progress and Results

Measuring performance is the most important and cost-effective step to improvement. Pragmatic measures can have the same positive impact on school performance as the scientific method did on agriculture and industry. The formula for measuring schools is

Learning X Confidence X Morale
Cost

Each component of the outside audit school performance formula is defined in Exhibit 7.

Learning is measured by analysis of achievement and ability, with emphasis on growth. Careful, positive analysis and use of information are essential: percentiles of achievement and ability, grade equivalents and growth rates for district, school, classroom, and students. Obviously learning is the main purpose of schools; while these measures are imperfect, they focus on mission and purpose, with positive reinforcement for staff, a powerful motivation for improvement.

Another important category of information is feedback from key constituents: students, parents, teachers, graduates, taxpayers, and community. Simple, straightforward, hard-hitting performance questions help set priorities and differentiate between schools, classrooms, subjects, and services where there is high satisfaction and those where there are realistic improvement opportunities. Using these criteria, performance varies remarkably even between similar, neighboring schools and districts:

-93-

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