Sat. Sep 24th, 2022

Whether you’re evaluating an elementary school or a university, there are many tangible indicators to help measure an educational environment. Here are seven areas to concentrate on and what they tell you.

1. Student Attendance and Engagement: Student attendance and interaction in the classroom is probably the most visible metric to measure when gauging an educational environment. Are the students showing up regularly? Do they have their work prepared? Are they attentive and participating in class?

It doesn’t matter if we’re 12 or 21, we often choose to avoid those classes that are boring, hard or uninviting, especially if the instructor is perceived to be cold and detached. Chances are that higher attendance means a well-prepared instructor who has good student interaction. Lower attendance might mean the opposite is true. If you’re looking for a numerical measurement, you can check the class roster of who should be there versus who is there over a period of time. This will give you an objective numerical statistic. Some class attendance is higher than others. Ask why.

2. Student Retention: Students are more likely to stay if they enjoy the way they’re treated and they perceive progress in their learning. How many students complete the course or the program? While students at the elementary level can’t normally drop out of school, they can request a different teacher than the one assigned. If a lot of students are requesting to leave a particular instructor’s classroom, that may be a red flag to you to look further into that teacher’s classroom management and preparation.

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At the high school and college levels, the students can vote with their feet. Look at enrollment in the first week and compare it to different time periods during the quarter/term. Is there a trend of some instructors losing more students than others? Ask yourself why and investigate. If some instructors stand out as having high retention, ask them how they operate in the classroom and have them share those best practices with others.

3. Student Grades: Grades should be a measurement of how well a student grasped the material presented. Look at the grade spread for a particular class. Does it look like an even spread? Are there too many A’s or too many D’s and F’s? Now look at the student attendance and retention for that class as well and see if a picture emerges regarding how that class is run.

If there’s low attendance and high grades, ask yourself if the course is too easy? If there is high attendance and low grades, is the instructor teaching above the level of the students? If there is low attendance with low grades, perhaps the instructor needs mentoring on better classroom management and student interaction skills.

4. In-person Instructor Evaluations: Regular feedback from school administrators to the faculty is critical in any school. It gives a chance for solid instructors to shine in the eyes of their supervisors. It also gives supervisors a chance to see areas where a struggling teacher needs help. The regularity of supervisory visits to the classroom will also put the instructors at ease because they will see it as a regular activity, not a response to a complaint.

What do the evaluations tell you? Again, review the attendance, retention and grade spread for the class in question and then spend an hour watching the instructor teach. Are you observing a master at work? Or do you see someone who could improve greatly with a few pointers? Is what you see consistent with what the other numbers tell you? Praise, coach-whatever the situation reveals.

5. Student Feedback: Do you have a way to let students make comments to you in their own words? Just because they’re young doesn’t mean they don’t have valid issues that should be addressed. Most often, they’re minor to us but important to them. Maybe the vending machine is always out of food on Fridays. Maybe they think Mr Smith has unfair grading practices. Regardless, check it out and fix what you can.

Think of students as customers (yes, customers) and listen to them. Even if their request is unreasonable (“We don’t want homework.”), give them an answer. At least they’ll know you heard them and cared enough to respond. Remember, part of this exercise is how to evaluate an educational environment. How you respond to complaints is part of that as well.

6. Instructor Feedback: Do you let your teachers tell you how they feel about things? Are they happy with working conditions and teaching loads? With schedules? With pay? If they have classroom issues that they don’t know how to resolve, do you set up teacher forums for them to learn from other more-seasoned teachers?

By rahul