Should Schools Be Graded?

The DOE Superintendent and HSTA have complained about the Honolulu Magazine’s annual grading of public schools. Is their request reasonable? I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I think there is a legitimate need to assess schools, and I also the demand for this information is legitimate, especially for policymakers, taxpayers, and parents. On the other hand, I’m have serious doubts creating a fair and accurate evaluation of schools. How do you define what makes a successful school? How do you evaluate or measure this? These two questions are challenging by themselves, but even if one could answer them, one would have to be able to separate various factors that would go into school success–especially the students and their families and the quality of the school staff. Schools with many ambitious students, with little physical, cognitive, social, or emotional problems, will have a greater chance of succeeding, then a school with large group of students who are unmotivated and have a host of problems. In my view, a fair and accurate assessment would have to separate these factors, and, again, I have serious doubts this can be done well.

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