In my EDL 680 course, which is a Seminar for Personalized Learning and Leading Through Technology, we are reading Yong Zhao's "Catching Up or Leading the Way." A section that caught my eye was on input-oriented accountability, which as Zhao puts it, measures the quality of schools by looking at the quality of educational resources and opportunities they provide to each student."
This is timely as the Academy of Arts and Sciences begins to look at charter renewals for three of our five charters we operate (the other two are due for renewal during the 2017-18 school year). I spent the afternoon today at the California Charter Schools Association offices in LA, sitting through their Charter Renewal Workshop. In addition to revisions and updates to the charter document itself, authorizers want to see, and EdCode stipulates, the presentation of data. They want to see the program is successful, and successfully impacting the lives of those who attend the program. Some of the data points are cohort graduation rates, absence numbers, and test scores from the SBAC test. The State Board of Education is working on a new matrix, and the CCSA has some standards as well. What I learned today is if AAS does not meet certain thresholds, even as a member of CCSA, they would advocate against our charter renewal. Luckily, I believe we are meeting these standards.
But are they correct? Should we be judged on test scores, when even folks like myself are not the best test-takers but can show my understanding in a different way. Is this truly a personalized approach, or one that believes every American child is the same: learns the same, applies knowledge the same, and the like. Or would a better measure of success for a school like ours be more in line with an input-oriented accountability system? Some of the measures that Zhao shares include teachers ("does the school have a staff that is highly qualified and motivated to help students learn?"), curriculum ("does the school implement a broad and rigorous curriculum relevant to all students?"), opportunities to be different ("does the school make arrangements to enable students who have different talents to pursue the?), and more. These are interesting data points, and ones that would show a commitment to each individual scholar. In fact, it would help make the point of our mission statement at AAS: "to inspire and develop innovative, creative, self-directed learners, one scholar at a time."
As I continue with SDSU's program, I continue to learn new ways of thinking and am excited to share these ideas with my professional networks and my colleagues at AAS.
J.J. Lewis - a blog sharing the journey throughout SDSU's MA.EL. program.