School Category Ratings
This is a judgement about the overall quality of the school. Other factors considered are level of student achievement and the physical condition of the school. It typically reflects the bottom-line evaluation of how the school is meeting the needs of a child and how it is serving the community.
Great principals, those who merit a rating of 5, create and maintain a culture of achievement and support throughout the school. They establish high expectations for academics and behavior, and do everything possible to attract, develop and support high-quality teachers. Great principals ensure that teachers have specific plans for student learning and ways to assess student progress. They have the courage and stamina to set ambitious goals for the school, and hold themselves and staff members accountable for showing progress toward these goals. In addition, they are accessible to parents and other members of the school community and respond to their concerns.
The overall quality of the teaching staff is considered, not just an individual child's teachers. Good teachers establish high expectations for academics and behavior. They are well organized and have a clear plan for what students should be learning on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. They know their subject matter, and they use multiple teaching strategies to reach students who come to school with varying skills and interests. They give regular feedback to students and challenge them to achieve their personal best. At the same time, they go to great lengths to care for and support students personally. They communicate openly and clearly with parents and work well with their colleagues.
The variety and quality of activities at the school. A highly rated school involves a large number of students in a variety of extracurricular activities, including sports, the arts, and intellectual and cultural interests. Teachers and coaches who supervise extracurricular programs pay attention to character development, as well as the level of performance and commitment to the activity. Scholarships are available for activities that require a fee.
The quantity and quality of parent involvement. In a highly rated school, parents play important leadership roles on the school site council, PTA and in other organizations. A school with strong parent involvement attracts a large percentage of parents to school functions. The school offers a variety of opportunities for parent participation, such as school events, classroom projects and schoolwide committees. Parents are respectful of teachers and the principal, and the teachers and principal seek out and value input from parents.
Safety and Discipline:
In a school that merits a 5, the staff and parents work together to create and maintain high expectations for student behavior. Discipline procedures are clear and are carried out consistently. Bullying, gang activities and oppressive behavior, such as sexism and racism, are not tolerated. Students feel safe when they are dropped off at school, the campus is tidy, the restrooms and cafeteria are kept clean. The playground equipment meets safety codes, and recesses are well supervised. Schools that pay attention to safety do not provide easy access to strangers.
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