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ISACS Self-Study Awaits Arrival of Accreditation Team
ISACS Self-Study Awaits Arrival of Accreditation Team

From the Head's Desk: Ongoing Evaluation - An Attribute of an Effective School

By Gareth Vaughan, Head of School

The August 26 issue of Education Week online reprinted a June 2016 blog by Matthew Lynch entitled The Five Attributes of Successful Schools.

In the article, Mr. Lynch identifies five attributes that contribute to the success of a school: Leadership, High Expectations, Ongoing Evaluation, Goals and Directions, Secured and Organized. I couldn't agree with him more. All five must be consistently applied for a school to be successful. The third attribute is particularly apropos to Park Tudor at this time in the year. Not only are we initiating new ways of assessing teaching and assessing student work, but for the next month we are looking to a total school evaluation as we anticipate the arrival of the ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States) Accreditation Team. While Mr. Lynch's definition of 'Ongoing Evaluation' focused on student assessment, I would add that a school must use that data along with other data sets to evaluate progress relative to its mission.

That is precisely what Park Tudor is doing through the ISACS Accreditation process. This seven-year cycle (you can fully explore it here) began in February 2017, with the administration of the ISACS Community Survey to all Park Tudor constituents. The results provided the school with a broad set of data identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses. The process continued throughout last year as 40+ committees engaged all faculty as well as representatives from parents, alumni and students in the self-study portion of the ISACS accreditation, a process focusing on strengths, challenges and plans and priorities. I am happy to say that the self-study was completed in May and the summer was spent reviewing the 200-page document. Some themes that have emerged surround the mission of our school, balance, and the quality of our students and program. Our faculty and staff were honest and forthright in reviewing our policies, programs and processes.

This work is a prelude to a visit by a team of peer evaluators for which we are currently preparing. Fourteen educators hailing from similar schools in ISACS will arrive on campus October 7. The team will spend two and a half days in intense review of our programs, policies and processes measuring what they see against what we say we are doing. Upon completion of the visit, a report will be submitted to the ISACS Accreditation Committee, which will issue a final report to Park Tudor sometime later in this first semester. We will keep you informed as we seek to constantly evaluate what we do in the name of our students.