Second in a series
VP, Authorizer Learning & Development
Evaluating school performance is the heart of authorizing. To do it well, authorizers need to get the right information. We need data on student literacy and numeracy, yes. That will often come from standardized assessments. AND we need more. This is why NACSA is encouraging authorizers to lean into using multiple measures to evaluate school quality and student success.
The State University of New York Charter Schools Institute (SUNY) has been a leader among authorizers on multiple measures. Through its Active Ingredients Project launched five years ago, SUNY, along with other authorizers around the country, engaged with schools in their portfolio to learn more about ways to measure schools’ impact on student learning and wellness.
SUNY is currently working with the Albany Leadership Charter High School for Girls—a successful 6-12 school with high rates of graduation and college acceptance—on how to more effectively measure its mission to “prepare young women to graduate from high school with the academic and leadership skills necessary to succeed in college and the career of their choosing.”
The school implements a suite of social-emotional and college/career readiness supports. Both SUNY and the school wanted better data to measure the school’s progress in meeting its mission and student outcomes related to their CLEAR values: College Readiness, Leadership, Empowerment, Accountability, and Resolve—. Together they built a logic model and, from there, leveraged the school’s CLEAR values matrix to develop measures of student progress in the five areas.
They found an approach that is truly student-centered: different students may demonstrate competencies in each area in different ways, as there are many ways to demonstrate Leadership or Accountability or Resolve. Keegan Prue from SUNY shares that while some measures are “proven assessment instruments such as Panorama, State Regents Exams, college course credit, or peer mentorship certificates,” other measures include student engagement in and reflection on meaningful learning activities, such as meetings with civic and business leaders or ongoing participation in extracurricular activities.
Keegan says that, while the process has taken time to get right, “seeing the school’s program laid out in a complete logical chain helps ensure we’re targeting the most important outcomes.” He is particularly excited about the opportunities of the portfolio approach to measure the school’s mission-aligned outcomes. “Using this portfolio thinking may provide a more customized, flexible, and responsive goal development process for certain schools to develop multiple measures of success.”
Carina Cook, Principal at Albany Leadership, says working with SUNY on this project has been validating. She adds, “Collaboration has given us a feeling of support in achieving the accountability metrics, and an acknowledgement that so many factors impact achievement.”
Albany Leadership recently received some other validating news related to meeting their mission: the middle school’s “Teens Make Health Happen” club received the “Best in Mental Health” award from the HealthCorps’ national competition. Congrats Purple Panthers!
SUNY and Albany Leadership are not alone. Other authorizers and charter schools are exploring how to more comprehensively evaluate student performance and school quality. NACSA encourages more authorizers in the field to engage in this work.
We will continue to share stories and resources, including logic models, over the coming weeks. Stay tuned.