What makes a good school? If No Child Left Behind and it’s one-track mind supporters are to be believed, a school’s worth is contained only in it’s test scores. But anyone who takes a closer look realizes that there are many more ways to rate the quality of any school. It seems that Rhode Island agrees and the co-founder of a high school in that state has written a book that discusses some other factors that go into creating a good educational setting.
In his new book, "The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone’s Business," the 60-year-old Littky explains what he tries to encourage at the Met: "Creativity, passion, courage and perseverence" as well as "speaking, writing and reading" through projects that engage each student’s interests.
"When a kid leaves my school," he wrote in the book, "I want her to have the basic life skills that will help her get along in the adult world — like knowing how to act in a meeting or how to keep her life and work organized." Those skills, he noted, are "basic stuff that too many schools forget in their rush to cram in three sciences, three social studies, four maths and so on."
Actually much of the sciences and social studies along with "basic life skills" are being pushed out of the curriculum as the standardized tests narrow the emphasis to reading, math and maybe writing skills. But the heavy reliance on opinion and attitude assessment in the examples from the article is going too far in another direction. Again, these are just part of the equation in trying to determine the quality of a school.
The bottom line is that creating a good school is not a simple or easy task. It won’t happen with continual testing or threats of sanctions based on those tests. The plan that works for some students won’t work for others. This isn’t to say that good schools happen by accident. There are distinct pieces that make up the successful ones and not all of them can be judged using simple multiple choice.