Laura Vanderkam wrote in the online forum at USA Today (6/16) that “some new data coming out amid this June graduation season suggests that…low expectations for good students are widespread,” and “they have a real cost.” A Phi Beta Kappa poll showed that, “72 percent gave their eldest child’s school an ‘A’ or ‘B,'” yet the OECD reports that “international test scores for the top 10 percent of American 15-year-olds are far below those of the top 10 percent in other rich countries.” McKinsey & Co. “found that if US children did as well as students from nations such as Finland, our economy would be 9 percent-16 percent larger.” And, “this international gap is larger than America’s black-white achievement gap.” Vanderkam argues that “America needs to focus more on challenging its brightest children” by abandoning state tests in favor of “tests that can be compared internationally. Then don’t just put state results on a website. Paste individual school results to every school house door.”
This blurb caught my attention as if some one had added bright titanium to the neon lights! What if schools ‘marketed’ themselves in a manner much like the Zagat Guide…….now education would be on to something. While I know there are other school reports which are posted each year and the public can view if they know where to look online or at city offices, they are incredibly difficult to decipher (part of hoodwinking the public) and in the case of charter schools which pop up every year, incredibly lacking in detail.
I am not sure what the school Zagat would look like – I of the eating at divey, little known restaurants with great ethnic food…..However, I would like to make a proposal. Research began by finding out exactly what Zagat does……
|What do your ratings mean? Where is your key to ratings?|
And so my suggestion(s)/thought(s) are as follows:
Keep the 0-30 point rating scale the same. Where/how the points are distributed is in some manner of school site Decor and Service, money spent per student /ADA is VE, E, M, I, food would be breakfast and lunch and quality of it as well as do students (who are the ones it is meant for) eat the food or toss it – which in a real restaurant would have significant implications, Appeal would be based on student and parent and teacher opinion, Facilities would be based on issues such as library, computer lab, gym with showers, teachers lounge which does not double as some other room for school use, adequate bathrooms/plumbing,pool, condition of school, Attractions would be items such as field trips, on campus extras – band, art, languages, etc., Amenities would include RSP, Special Ed, etc. I am unsure where test scores would go, however they do have a place as well as any special awards (much like Michelin Stars) the school would have received and when. In addition, the principal (chef), vice-principal/dean (sommelier) and teachers (sous chefs) as well as ancillary staff, would have categories. From what I can tell at the website, the various people at restaurants are also interviewed. I can only imagine seeing real bio’s of all staff, professionally written and including when staff members went from school A to B, how long they served at A or B and what their professional backgrounds/experience may be…..This would also mean showing how many staff and students RETURNED each year or found a different establishment to meet their education needs. This would also allow schools to track how many students go to college and how many achieve a degree from AA to PhD.
This my friends, would be somewhat more honest/truthful and by far more an accurate marketing of our schools.
Clearly some one would need to put some more effort into defining the parameters and making it clear to all who would read the Zagat, however, I can’t help but feel that much in the way restaurants strive to get patronage, schools should be doing the same. It should be part and parcel of the materials a school (especially charters) or private school hands out collateral – not just the test scores each year, one of the poorest parameters of measuring success.
I can only imagine the possibilities; Thank you/Kudos to Laura Vanderkam for the idea!