School Improvement

School improvement is a journey without a definitive end. The process (the journey) is what’s important, not actually completing it (which doesn’t happen anyway). Continuous improvement is required for improvement because the environment changes, the staff changes, the families change, the students change, the regulations change, the level of funding changes, etc. To remain static is to invite atrophy.

All schools are facing the issue of accountability as evidenced in high-stakes testing. The immediate reaction is to obsess with preparation for the high-stakes test, including classroom test-preparation, wrong-answer analysis instruction, distractors, how to best take multiple-choice tests, etc. Some of this is to be accepted as necessary simply because these strategies have been demonstrated to raise test scores in the short-term. Is this school improvement? Yes and no. Scores improve, some learning takes place. Much necessary learning is deemphasized in favor of test prep. It’s a Catch-22. There is no right or wrong answer, just degrees or rightness and wrongness.

The process of school improvement is a continuous journey. When a goal is reached, it is time to make a new goal. There is no peak of the mountain; rather it is a travel through space. Reach Mars and head for Saturn. Finish the solar system and head for Andromeda, etc. Create and reach new goals.

Kowalski, T., Lasley, T. & Mahoney, J. (2008). Data-driven decisions and school leadership. Boston, MA: Pearson.