Every year public and private school parents receive reports from schools that, unless you have a degree in education or statistics, appear to be gibberish. A lot of numbers, percentages, and abbreviations that make no sense to you at all. Believe it or not, schools count on the fact that you won’t understand what the data means. On the other hand, Montessori schools have a different approach to understanding and evaluating their students that will be compared below.
Statistics To Know
1. Raw Score versus Percentile Scores
The report tells you many important things, but if you don’t know how to read it the entire report is confusing. These reports tell you where your child stands compared to other students in the school, state, and nation. Some of it can be reasoned out, but some of the data gets murky. If you don’t understand what the report is telling you, call the counselor or testing coordinator and have them walk you through it. Montessori schools generally do not use a grading system for evaluations. Teachers take note of their students daily progress and assess the situation and advance them to new lessons as needed.
2. School Report Cards
Schools are required to publish “parent friendly” school wide report cards. The data on these reports is invaluable. It will tell you about safety issues, discipline problems, and available resources. If you have a difficult time reading it, call your district office and ask to have someone walk you through it. Rather than handing out report cards, Montessori schools take the time to meet with the student’s families multiple times per year to showcase their work and give an assessment. Often times the student will give a self-assessment as well.
3. School Ranking
This is a big one. On the state education website you will find a link for school rankings. The data tells you several key elements. It will let you know how your child’s school compares to others in its district. Also, the reports will show how test scores have changed over time. The report also tells how your district compares to others across the state. You can search both public and private schools. Most Montessori schools will show up within the private rankings.
4. Benchmark Evaluations
Schools will often administer benchmarks near the end of a grading period to determine if your child has mastered specific skills. Be sure you understand what these skills are and how to help your child with them. The Montessori approach is already taking the student’s specific interests and skills from the start and concentrating them in those areas. They move the students along as they deem ready.
5. Academic Performance Index or API
This set of data discusses how your child’s school compares to other schools in the district. It deals with questions of teacher qualifications, number of students divided up by subgroups, and test scores. If a school scores low on the API, the state department of education often becomes involved. These statistics can also be found on the state education website for both public and private schools.
6. State Performance Plan or SPP
Each state must submit to the U.S. Department of Education a six year plan that shows how the state plans to improve student performance. This is public information.
7. No Child Left Behind
This federal initiative collects data from all states to determine what areas are in need of additional resources. The resources are intended to assist children from low income families, but often these resources will spill over to other subgroups as well. Within public schools, this may change the dynamics within the classroom according to the levels of education among the students. Within private schools the classrooms can stay more on target since the education they are receiving has been consistent. Montessori schools cater to each individual child and there for all children excel at their own pace in their interested fields.
8. School Compliance Reports
These reports tell you how well your school is complying with federal guidelines. Schools do not distribute these, but they have the data and must present it if asked.
9. Educational Standards
These are the skills and sub-skills your child is expected to learn. Often, all you see are letters and numbers with no explanation. You can find a breakdown of what each skill is on your state education website. This only holds true for public and private schools. Again, Montessori schools work at their own pace per child and can be evaluated through their work and self-assessments.
10. Teacher Quality
Periodically you will receive a report on how highly qualified your child’s teacher is compared to other teachers. It does not give names, but there is invaluable information available to you. It will tell level of education, age grouping, and years of experience.
Recognizing these educational statistics within public, private and Montessori schools will help determine which schooling situation is right for your child and how to better understand their growth within this school system.