Home > Community Engagement, Democracy & Public Education > A New Metrics System for Schools

A New Metrics System for Schools

“We all want straightforward information about what’s working and what needs improvement. We also know there is more to education than scores in reading, writing and math.”           ~People For Education~

Here is a question for parents- what do you really want from our schools and school systems?  It’s a challenging question for challenging times. One reason for this is that the expectations parents have of our school system are often based upon their own experiences and their own unique contexts and priorities. We want schools to be safe, we want our children to be successful, happy and equipped with both knowledge and skills and we want our children to have friends.  Let’s face it; when it comes to school, parents want it all  (not to worry- it is okay for a parent to want it all for their child).

The challenge lies in how we decide to define the real success of a school and the ways that we may choose to measure this success. As a school and district we use surveys, focus groups, standardized assessments and and a wide range of demographic data to define and measure; and we respond through our school and board improvement plans.

As a principal, I count the smiles on the faces of the students and adults in the building; a simple but surprisingly useful metric.

The Ontario-based advocacy organization People for Education is exploring this topic because they believe that; “…it is both necessary and possible to create an easy-to-understand Canadian-made set of indicators that will be useful to educators, publicly accepted, and that reflect a complete education.” I encourage parents, educators, interested community members and students to click on this link and  join the conversation.

  1. Steve Rensink
    November 6, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    I know we and others have discussed this many times Brian…a necessary first step is to engage in a conversation centred on defining success. We know that historically our definition has been quite narrow…oft time singularly focused. Once we have a handle on this as individuals, and systems then perhaps we will be able design the metrics/indicators that will be relevant, precise and offer a more accurate representation of how we are doing.

    • November 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Hi Steve

      I’m not asserting that I’ve got this figured out in any way- in fact beyond counting smiles and asking parents and visitors how it ‘feels’ when they visit the school is about as far as I’ve gone so far- I do agree with you we need to talk about how we define the success of a school. If only just to expand the conversation beyond the numerical measures.

      Nor do I dispute that schools need to be places for focussed, meaningful learning- I guess I just want us to be more and I’m glad that People for Education is putting this idea out there for us to think about and discuss.

      I hope your new adventures are keeping you engaged and that you are well 🙂


  2. Karen Friedman
    November 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I just finished reading the paper and am thinking about how I might modify the conversations I have with principals about their school improvement efforts. School culture building and school improvement are complex and certainly cannot be distilled into a numeric score – although these “scores” provide a piece of the puzzle.

    • November 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Karen

      It is encouraging to see groups like People for Education and the Canadian Education Association looking at the effectiveness of our schools and school systems in ways that go beyond the scores- I’d like to think that the ideas and challenges that Ken is putting out to our district are helping to push this thinking. I think about our school improvement efforts and sometimes think this work is way too complex for anyone to take on-but it is that complexity that makes is so interesting and engaging- it’s like we are both creating and learning a new language at the same time.

      I appreciate the time you have taken to read and respond and am looking forward to more opportunities to work on the ‘puzzle’ 🙂


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