What really contributes to a school’s success

ElimuOnline is dedicated to providing insights, tools and support through research and public engagement, recently we examined nine public schools that have exceptional academic reputations despite being known as high poverty schools. Some of the key findings were that all nine schools had principals/headmasters with clear and strong visions who encouraged staff to get involved in problem solving and decision making, as well as teachers who were committed to making a difference in students’ lives and seeing their school succeed. The examination also found that these principals and teachers had consistently high expectations for all students, both in terms of student behavior and academic success. Moreover, the students from these nine schools reported that they felt valued, loved and challenged.

By looking at results such as national test scores, and student performance, you can get a fairly clear picture of how well a school is doing its job. But when you look beyond all the numbers, what really contributes to a school’s success?

“It’s not just a philosophy, but a deliberate, step-by-step approach these schools are taking. This is what we heard again and again from the teachers, principals and students we met.”

Our examinations has some limitations, primarily because there is still some disagreement over what defines an effective school. Some may say high academic achievement indicates a school’s success, while others define successful schools as those that foster personal growth, creativity and a positive self-concept

Some common characteristics thrown around during this discusions were;
  • Quality leadership.
  • High expectations of students and teachers.
  • Ongoing screening of student performance and development.
  • goals and direction.
  • Safety and security for students.
  • Teacher feedback.
  • Data driven instruction.
  • High-dosage tutoring.
  • Increased instructional time and focus on academic achievement.
There is no one factor that makes a school successful. In the successful schools we have seen, visionary leaders work side by side with committed teachers creating a warm, respectful, optimistic and achievement-oriented climate