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Evaluating schools: It’s about more than test scoresOctober 8, 2013

Author: Webmaster

David Chudnovsky used to have a simple answer when parents asked him how they can determine if their school is doing a good job and meeting the needs of their children.

The former MLA and veteran teacher would tell them that the best way to judge a school is by visiting it, attending a few classes, meeting the principal and talking to staff. While that was easy for him to say, he soon realized not everyone is as comfortable entering a school as he is.

“It’s daunting and scary for a lot of people,” Chudnovsky, a former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) , told a weekend forum.

That realization – and frustration with annual school rankings by the Fraser Institute – led to the creation four years ago of the Great Schools Project (GSP). It’s an attempt by educators, parents and researchers to improve school evaluation and accountability by looking beyond standardized test results.

The GSP developed a toolkit for assessing schools, which includes asking questions about class size, services for special-needs students, school cleanliness, air quality, whether the school has a full-time principal, and if there is a library. That’s in addition to queries about student achievement in a broad range of subjects.

The Great Schools Project also recommends that schools make annual reports to their communities about activities and student progress. Furthermore, it says students should be involved in assessing their schools. Find more information about the toolkit here.

Chudnovsky was a presenter last weekend at the BC Assessment Forum, organized by  Measurement, Evaluation and Research Methodology (MERM) at UBC’s Education Faculty.

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