How Should We Assess Schools?
- qualifications of teachers and caregivers
- pupil:teacher ratio (class size)
- quality of the learning environment or facility
- involvement of parents
These standards seem reasonable. These are all expected to be essential for effective learning. A possible dilemma, however, exists. The standards above may just be the required inputs for educating a child, thus, only prescribing what is minimally required for a high quality preschool education. In other words this may be similar to using availability of textbooks as a way of assessing quality in schools. Whether pupils are provided learning materials or not is really not a measure of quality. Such standard can not be expected as a good yardstick to discriminate programs. Such standard does not really identify what sets apart a high quality preschool program from the rest.
A recent report in the journal Science, "Can Rating Pre-K Programs Predict Children’s Learning?", demonstrates that the standards enumerated above do not perform well in predicting learning outcomes in early childhood education. These certainly highlight the concern that the standards chosen simply pertain to necessary inputs for learning, and not the true factors behind the learning process. The following figure from the Science paper suggests what may be missing:
"On most measures of children’s learning, programs rated high by QRIS produce outcomes that are not signiﬁcantly better than those of low-rated programs. Stars indicate a statistically signiﬁ cant difference in math, prereading, expressive language, and social skills (*P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, ***P < 0.001)." Can Rating Pre-K Programs Predict Children's Learning? T. J. Sabol, S. L. Soliday Hong, R. C. Pianta, and M. R. Science 23 August 2013: 341 (6148), 845-846.[DOI:10.1126/science.1233517]
- emotional support
- classroom organization
- instructional support