How to REALLY Measure Your School

How to REALLY Measure Your School

More than a year ago, Keith Evans, Head of Collegiate School in Richmond, and one of the brightest, most forward-thinking educators I know, sent me a list of about five metrics that he had created (yes, a bit tongue-in-cheek) to measure true effectiveness of his school.  I added to the list. I swear I cannot remember which of these are mine and which are Keith’s, but I think this is a REALLY good list that should jog your thinking. Thanks to Keith for being on the leading edge, and apologies to him if he had copyrighted this! And I think most of these are just as relevant to public education as to independent schools.  Enjoy, and if you have additions, please enter them as a comment and we will grow this thing together.

Independent School Metrics for the 21st Century

Keith Evans and Grant Lichtman

 1. Organizational Velocity: A calculation of the average speed at which a worthy new idea travels the path to implementation – a notoriously sluggish pace in most academic environments.  Some spots in the real world are not too speedy either.

2. Curiosity Index: A simple subtraction function that measures whether a student is more curious upon graduation than at enrollment.  (related to the Intellectual Curiosity Quotient which is a predictor of this Index.  It calculates the ratio of time spent by students in class asking questions to the time spent answering questions.  Any resulting fraction greater than 1.0 is a mark of an intellectually curious learning environment.)

3. Obsolescence Ratio: The ratio of legacy practices to new methods employed in the leadership and organization of the school.  This metric is sometimes measured by the number of familiar experiences a parent has in navigating the school with two children at least five years apart.

4.  Anti-Tech Innovation Coefficient

A measure of the number of changes in classroom instruction that do NOT include use of a new technology as a measure of the creative intelligence of a teacher.

5. Faculty and Staff Performance Discussion Event Horizon

An easily measurable metric where the only question posed about faculty and staff evaluation is this: “What percentage of our employees are performing at or above the expected standard?”  If the answer is 95% or greater, everyone moves on to more productive conversation.  If the answer is less than 95%, the performance and quality of the faculty and staff becomes the topic of the first objective in the strategic plan.

6. Strategy Corruption Quotient: Perhaps the most simple measure to take in the list, the Strategy Corruption Quotient assumes an inverse correlation between the size of a strategic plan and the quality of the strategic thinking in it.

7. Silo Scale:  Another ratio calculation that measures the time and energy spent working alone versus collaborating.  The Silo Scale gauges the likelihood that a school will create a steady stream of innovations. It is also a predictor for the extent to which these trickle down to the student or parent experience.

8. Coordinates of the Intellectual Campus:  This metric is modeled on GPS technology to measure the extent to which the physical boundaries of a campus define the boundaries for learning.  Scoring well here would include an abundance of learning “on the ground” by traveling off-campus locally and globally.  This metric would also account for new ideas and perspectives brought to the physical campus by outside speakers and visitors as well as the use of technology (videoconferencing, etc.) to reach out beyond campus boundaries.

9.  College Admissions Expansion Metric

The number of college admissions officers making a visit to the school each year divided by the average number of colleges that accepted the school’s graduates over the last four years.  This metric should be sustained above the 1.0 level as an indicator of the desirability of the school’s graduates to colleges and universities.

10.  The F=A Paradox

The measure of that portion of the curriculum where the greatest risks and failures are given the greatest reward. Absent this metric, all that stuff about learning from our mistakes is a lot of hot air and bad transcripts.


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  1. calseduc May 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Only one metric is needed. Examine the lunch program. Is it meeting the nutritional and behavioral needs of individuals and the collective or is it most concerned with “slopping the hogs”?

  2. Hi Grant,

    Thanks for sharing a thoughtful and provocative piece. I wish more school leaders would share their metrics with the wider independent school world!

    One question: do you have any suggestions on how to effectively measure these and then share the data with school constituents? Have you and/or Keith participated in an implementation that you could share with us/me?

    • glichtman June 5, 2012 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      To my knowledge, these were halfway between thought provoking and tongue in cheek, though I can tell you that I have informally discussed more than one of them with my own heads of school when thinking about how we could assess our expenditures. We have not gathered these data, nor do I know if Keith has. But there are some good ones in there!

  3. […] Lichtman argues that one way to “REALLY” measure your school is to gauge the “ratio of time spent by students in class asking questions to the time spent […]

    • glichtman June 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks. A teacher at Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Peyton Dobbs, sent me an email after reading The Falconer that inspired that metric. She said she had totally changed the ratio of speaking to listening in the classroom and it had made a transformational difference in how she perceived her teaching effectiveness.

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