GreatSchools recently launched its list of Top Schools. The list features five high schools in each state that represent the qualities of a great school, including academic performance and parent involvement. What do you think make the qualities of a great school? How would you expand this list?
Here's the link to the Top Schools page: http://www.greatschools.net/top-high-schools/
And to the corresponding article: http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/showarticle/3703
Here is what I would add to the list of what makes a great school, community outreach and school security.
At my son's school I've never felt any community between the parents, staff, or the students. They don't reach out to the community, when they do have something going on it's the same thing over and over. I see this not just at my son's school but my niece and nephews schools as well. If schools did things more oriented towards the communities they were based in they would get a bigger turn out or more involvement from community members. I wish schools would stop trying to be a "one size fits all" institution.
Security, for me is another big issue at local schools. When the bell rings except for kindergartners the children scramble out of those classrooms and run amok. It's my opinion, that this lack of security through disorganization is a situation ripe for child predators.19394
Apart from the obvious Academic Excellence, I believe great teachers make a school great! If the school principal and his/her teachers altogether are cheerful, enthusiastic, compassionate, and have a passion for teaching, it automatically translates to a great school!19393
The school my son goes to is great! They are personable with "him and "I". Their attitude is "your in my class, and I plan on you going to college". They are PRO-CHILD. and i am "very happy" with them. I never have to make a "appointment to speak with them". Yes, he goes to a "private school", and it was the "BEST" decision we ever made.19392
To me, a great school is great for a kid or family based on its philosophy and its fit. What might have been amazing for my son won't necessarily be great for my daughter.
I want to see:
Strong academics. I want the focus to be on the three R's first, then fill in the gaps.
Strong community effort. I want the administration to work with the teachers and both those groups to look at the parents as partners.
Strong commitment. I want everyone involved to focus on the success of every child--from parents to students to the yard duty guards to the volunteers. And I want the kids to want to succeed as well.19390
We have a few so called great schools here and they may meet the academic standards but what good is it when the students are strung out on drugs? A few of our so called "5 STAR" schools have major drug problems which continue to be ignored. One school is called Heroin High and the other is known for Cocaine. I think first and foremost in this era, the most important thing should be the students safety and drug infested schools are not safe. JMO.19389
My five great things are teachers, teachers, teachers, teachers, and all the necessary teaching materials. I can still remember one of my great teachers. As a freshman in college, a young law professor taught me and other two hundred students a course titled, Nigerian Legal system and International law. He was a mean teacher, but an excellent lecturer with a purpose to get the best out of his students.
Why do we always have great schools where we have highly educated parents and "bad" schools where parents have less education?
Why do you think students in some of the develoving countries with uneducated parents do well in school?
This is really The Question - it's the question that's been asked and continues to be asked because there's no good answer to it so far. NCLB has defined a 'great school' as one where its students achieve a certain score on state generated tests (what questions are asked on those tests? how many people know? are they questions the answers to which are fundamentally important or are they fluff? or just gobs of stuff?) I maintain there are schools where students do quite well on those tests but the schools are yet far from 'great schools'. Parents can remain very unhappy with the schools despite the high test scores because caring parents are looking for more than high test scores on a state generated test with obscure questions. A great school is first a safe school. If a school isn't safe, it can't be great or even good. The building should be in good repair with decent facilities. I think most of us would agree to those two - past that a great depends on what you're looking for. Some parents want warm and fuzzy teachers - others want disciplinarians. Everybody wants teachers with a good knowledge base in their field but having a knowledge base doesn't mean they can teach. People want 'good teachers' without really being able to tell you what a good teacher is much less being able to agree on what it is. I think a great school is one that questions itself and always looks for the better way to do things but I've rarely encountered schools with that outlook. I think a great school finds its way to sensible modern curriculum and sensible teaching practices and sensible policies but again I've only twice encountered schools that do. A lot of schools just go on doing what's they've always done. The really great school is one where the students in it look forward to going back to it the next day - the proof is in the pudding. The least thing a school should do is generate enthusiasm among its students - if they school day is odious, they aren't learning much. Small schools have a greater chance to be great than does any large school and schools located in safe areas have a better chance to be safe. There are some who believe the same of schools as they do of real estate - there are three critical matters - location, location, location. Rarely have we been able to take a school in a less than ideal location and make the school good, much less great. That challenge remains the greatest one yet.19386
1. Teachers who are trained and differentiate their curriculum as a matter of course.
2. Principals, support staff, custodians and parents who support the teachers, students and each other.
3. Districts, PTAs, and Parents who make sure that teachers have all of the training and development programs they want and need.
4. Parents who give their children and their children's' schoolmates time, money, attention, love and disciple.
5. Before and after school care, enrichment activities, weekend activities, fund-raising and in class enrichment, including but not limited to cross-cultural education, communication and language classes.19385
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