Measuring a School’s Peformance

At a recent community meeting, there were lots of questions regarding metrics, specifically how the school measures its own performance. For most educational institutions, the most telling measure is university placement. But even if you move beyond the university list and include standardized test scores, the IB results, team performances, admissions and advancement scores, satisfaction surveys from students, parents, teachers, and old boys – even if you include all of these “dials,” I’m still not 100% sure we can accurately measure a school’s real performance.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to do all of this. (In fact, thanks to the generous help of Boston Consulting Group, we now have an institutional dashboard that covers all of the above variables.)

But here is an important point: A school is not a business. When a teacher spends her Saturday morning cheering for her students’ soccer team, how does that show up on a dashboard? When an advisor meets weekly with a boy whose parents are divorcing, where does that get measured? And when a university counselor challenges a boy to work harder and aim higher, how is this reflected?

So much of what a school does is about relationships, and relationships don’t lend themselves to easy forms of measurement. We aren’t making widgets on Lonsdale Road. Like it or not, in so many ways, schools are more like large semi-dysfunctional families than they are Fortune 500 companies. (And I shudder at the thought of what a dashboard might say about that crowd that lives in Grant House!)

If you have suggestions, though, on how we can really measure how we’re doing, please send them my way. Thank you!

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One Response to “Measuring a School’s Peformance”

  1. Adam de Pencier Says:

    To be sure, there is much that is measurable. So far so good. Knowing what is measurable and what is not is the difference between what researchers call the quantitative and qualitative. And when you confuse one with the other it’s like putting an oyster in a slot machine: something gets broken.

    Louis Armstrong was once asked how he knew what great jazz was.

    His answer?

    “If you don’t feel it you ain’t ever gonna know it!”

    Adam de Pencier
    English Department
    Upper Canada College

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