Running a school is hard work as it involves all stakeholders chipping in their time and efforts. Having clear goals and on-point metrics systems will ease the process, as school leaders will have the map and compass to get their ships sailing in the right direction. In reality, however, identifying such suitable tools can be overwhelming - having too many clear goals and fragmented measuring indices can cause leaders to lose focus. Within this article, we would like to focus on several leading key performance indicators below.
Students' Academic Performance
We might be associating academic achievement with standardized test scores, certificates, and awards, but that's not all. These are just the results of summative assessments, which are also helpful yet incomplete. We should place a high emphasis on formative assessment results, which are often let slide in traditional schools. A proportionate matrix intermingles with those two types will provide a more holistic sense of students' achievements. For example, students' projects should be qualitatively and quantitatively assessed based on agreed-upon schemes and account for parts of the overall year-end results. The evaluation process and results should be both input and output for students' lifelong learning. Students should be evaluated during the year and through diverse activities so that they would put effort into schoolwork the whole year, rather than just the practice exams at the end of each term.
Discipline referrals and attendance rates are common indicators in this area, and we would want to reduce the former to the minimum and increase the latter to the maximum. They are often represented as fundamental indicators that any school should be able to achieve, but in fact, attaining the best result in this area is built on concrete school culture. It's under no dispute that kids stay in school and avoid trouble if school is safe enough, fun enough, and meaningful enough, which requires collective efforts from all parties. Moreover, even when a school achieves 0.5% for discipline referral and 98% for attendance, are those numbers so good that we can bypass them? A separate case of discipline referral can still tell many stories, and for this type of indicator, the small percentage might imply stories and backgrounds worth paying attention to.
Teachers and Students' Wellbeing
This area has been overlooked systematically for a very long time, especially in traditional schools in Vietnam. Well-being is still a new concept for society, yet it is one of the critical indicators that will push students and teachers to skyrocket. The logic is simple: happy students learn better and satisfied teachers teach better. However, we focus too much on the tip of the iceberg for many years–the snapshot results that force students and teachers to catch up with policies and yearly targets. Let's look at the reality, few official curricula and evaluation metrics are built for wellbeing. Some scattered initiatives might offer some level of awareness; however, national policies and programs are needed to make a thorough impact. On the other hand, individual schools should make this indicator official and find ways to measure it effectively.
With those 03 areas, we can break down into dozens of metrics from which we perform data collection, analysis, and drive for solutions. The art here is to know how general or how detailed we want the metrics to be and how well they are linked together. We will continue to tackle the concern in our next article on this topic. One thing is for sure, all the indicators aforementioned, if well-addressed, would help create a healthy and rigorous school culture and climate for students and teachers to thrive.