Measuring Schools

Our Review of the Week features an account of one school system’s novel approach to achievement metrics

Beyond test scores : a better way to measure school quality

Schneider, Jack. Harvard, 2017
326p index, 9780674976399 $27.95

Standardized testing has become a bane in US education. It is not sufficiently comprehensive, treats reality as solely quantitative, and is used punitively more than diagnostically and progressively. Working with the Somerville, MA, school system, Schneider rethinks the issue, first polling what the community wants its schools to accomplish and then building a framework, based on peer and some original research, to achieve that purpose. Early chapters review the history of standardized testing and how school “quality” has been understood. Then substantive chapters elaborate five categories—three inputs and two outcomes—of the new framework. Schneider’s knowledge of existing educational and related research, and methods that capture it, is remarkable. The book can be used with beginning teacher education students and even graduate students studying educational issues to show how to think their way from first questions about quality through field testing a new idea. Schneider cautions that school quality is unique to a community, that there are no one-size-fits-all answers, and that his effort is a “field guide” rather than a template to impose on all schools.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, researchers, and professionals.
Reviewer: R. R. Sherman, emeritus, University of Florida
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Education
Choice Issue: Sep 2018