If there is a bottom line in schools today, it’s this — educators must do whatever it takes to help close the achievement gap and improve student learning.
The Five Freedoms Project supports this worthy goal. Schools that are not creating more optimal conditions for student achievement are not fulfilling their duty as institutions of learning. As educators, we must constantly assess our own performance against the extent to which our students are achieving progress.
To do so effectively and fully, schools must expand their measures for determining student achievement. After all, “achievement” isn’t only about student test scores; it’s also about other factors, such as:
- Ensuring that teachers and administrators are skilled in their use of data to improve student learning and engagement
- Identifying school-wide “habits of mind and being” for students, and adopting assessment measures to track student development of these habits over time
- Encouraging adults and students to constantly (and respectfully) challenge themselves and each other
- Providing learning support programs that address individual student needs and are committed to making sure that all students succeed
- Engaging students, whenever possible and appropriate, in the solution of complex, real-life problems
- Developing a curriculum that is challenging, rigorous, accessible, and relevant to a diverse student population
- Ensuring that all staff have the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to ensure that every child receives an equitable education and meets high academic standards
- Partnering with parents, community and civic organizations to enrich the curriculum, provide consistently high expectations for all students, and develop support programs
- Utilizing consistent behavioral management strategies that reinforce appropriate behavior, model due process, provide clear consequences for inappropriate behavior, and align well with the school mission and culture
By adopting a more holistic approach, we can start to see “Achievement” as a broader set of measures, and evaluate the full extent to which we are supporting the young people we serve.