Creating and refining a process for assessing school performance

How will your team know if its efforts are successful? Will you define your success by the school’s mean proficiency score, or some other way? How will you ensure your team is accountable for meeting the mission, vision, values, and goals it establishes?

In Trusting Teachers with School Success, Kim Farris-Berg, Edward J. Dirkswager, and Amy Junge suggest that one way teams can determine their success is to measure the extent to which they are emulating the cultural characteristics of high-performing organizations. Teams can use the survey in Appendix C of that book to determine whether individual members believe the team is emulating those characteristics, and then use those findings to guide improvement.

Teachers can also draw on their evaluations, test scores, measurements of student engagement, and other indicators of student, teacher, and team success. The key is to be open and committed to a process of inquiry, discussion, and improvement.

There are many ways to approach this work. Teams could have a committee dedicated to assessing whole school success that occasionally meets with individuals and the entire team. Teams could also delegate aspects of assessment to grade-level or subject-area teams that meet regularly about student and teacher assessments. Another option is to create a committee dedicated to measuring and analyzing your team’s overall performance, informed by the grade-level or subject area teams.

After your team determines how it will assess performance, and after you conduct your process, you will need to determine how to report your findings. Some teams only report what their states and school districts require. Others produce annual reports with that data, plus additional data and stories that are consistent with the team’s values to broaden the definition of achievement and assessment. Examples of each are in the resources below.

Author tip

Revisit the Storming stage steps designing assessment of student learning and determining an approach to evaluation and tenure to refresh your memory about the ways in which teams assess teacher and student performance. Those processes and tools might influence your team’s approach to assessing school performance.


Tools for reporting school performance

Avalon School (St. Paul, MN): 2018-2019 Annual Report

Annual Report. The Avalon team presents its traditional data, its school climate data, its innovative practices, its financial status, its future plans, and how it is addressing program challenges (such as institutional racism).

Tools for assessing school performance

Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots, Appendix C

Book. Appendix C is a survey instrument that teacher-powered schools can use to measure the extent to which they are emulating the cultural characteristics of high-performing organizations.

Assessment Tool For Observing Advisory/Classroom Culture

Rubric. This rubric developed by Phoenix High School teachers helps the teacher team to determine if their advisories (mixed-grade groupings of students who share a teacher-advisor) have the kind of culture they set-out to cultivate, and encourages implications for future practice.

The Hope Survey

Website. The Hope Survey assesses students’ non-academic outcomes, such as self-efficacy, optimism, and problem solving ability so teams can evaluate what the school needs to adjust to better help its students improve these outcomes.

Innovative Schools Network: Wisconsin Teacher-Powered Schools Sample Resources for Measuring Success

Website. This website contains links to a number of parent and student survey documents from teacher-powered schools (High Marq, Valley New, and Wildlands) which they use as part of their strategy to measure success.

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