Why do different schools perform differently in the same area? Why does a single school perform differently in different periods of time?
by Panamalai R. Guruprasad Continued from page 1
April 1, 2009
As we can see, it may not be very effective to use the approaches in isolation, in any classroom. My experience of working with children in very different geographic, cultural, socio-economic settings has proved that a judicious mixture of the two approaches works best for children.
In third world countries, teachers hesitate to use innovative strategies because they think it is risky. As a mentor, I have had the joy of training teachers in innovative methods (discovery learning etc) but many of them would have gone back to traditional methods thinking that these are more time consuming, but for my consistent `pull' (by acting as a role model to my colleagues and showing them by evidence, that innovative methods are not only less time consuming but they also work best). Some times even school managements revert back to traditional approaches as policy matter, for non-pedagogic reasons.
In countries like India, where there is still a significant gap between teacher training curriculum and grass-root reality in classrooms, newly trained teachers are often left in the lurch when they enter their classrooms. On such occasions, I have had the pleasure of letting my staff know by experience, as to the basic steps in effective teaching (listed as follows):
Lesson plan with cleargoals
Classroom processes that can sustain children’s interest in the lesson
Regular and relevant questioning
Adequate teacher pupil interaction time
Adequate wait time for pupils to answer questions
Regular feedback from the teacher
If we apply system model to our school systems, the output comprises basically of children's Educational attainment and Attitudes.
Educational attainment can be measured by reliable testing and exam mechanisms (Formative and Summative) which test high order knowledge and skills. Attitudes can be measured quantitatively by using rating scales; at a broader level, these can be measured by observation over a period of time (by all people who are concerned about the well being of children, in the school, home and the community at large).
I have found `per pupil mark’ as a simple indicator of educational attainment and of immense use in numerous situations, when assessing quality of school systems. Per pupil mark can be calculated without using any statistical formulae, simply by using per pupil marks obtained for different subjects across the curriculum in different grade levels at any instant of time. Comparison of per pupil mark of the school over a length of time (longitudinal study) can serve as an indicator of academic quality improvement in the school. Let me give a few examples to show how we can calculate per pupil mark. Per pupil mark of pupils in Grade 3 in a school is illustrated in fig.2
PPM can be calculated by (i) calculating the arithmetic mean of the marks obtained by pupils in that class in Literacy (PPM in Literacy = Total marks obtained by pupils in Literacy/Total number of pupils) (ii) calculating the arithmetic mean of the marks obtained by pupils in the class in Numeracy (PPM in Numeracy = Total marks obtained by pupils in Numeracy/Total number of pupils) and by (iii) calculating the arithmetic mean of the marks obtained by pupils in the class in Environmental Science (PPM in Environmental Science = Total marks obtained by pupils in Environmental Science/Total number of pupils) and by (iv) calculating the arithmetic mean of the above 3 scores.
Per pupil mark for the whole school is the arithmetic mean of the PPM for all grades (classes) in the school. This can be computed by adding the per pupil mark of all the grade levels and dividing it by the number of classes as illustrated in fig.3:
PPM can be used to find the performance
in one subject in one class
in one subject in the whole school
in all subjects in one class
l in all subjects in the whole school
PPM can be used to compare the performance of
a class over a period of time
different classes at any instant of time
any school over a period of time
different schools at any instant of time
And in many more contexts!
The other component of output, viz. attitudes, in our model, can be measured by observing children, discussing with parents and administering pupil friendly, age relevant, contextually related questionnaires (consisting of open ended questions as well as multiple choice items with rating scales).
If there is a discrepancy between the desired output and the current output, there is always a chance to narrow down the discrepancy by introducing appropriate interventions in the `Process' part of the model (for example by introducing better quality textbooks, employing better teachers, training teachers to use better teaching learning methods, etc).
Many schools in the US and other countries make use of Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives in curriculum development, classroom processes and assessment of pupil learning. In his book, "Human characteristics and school learning", Bloom4 says that cognitive entry behavior, affective entry characteristics and quality of instruction have a combined effect on pupil learning. If we apply his famous equation to our systems approach, we can arrive at a very interesting relationship as shown in fig.4:
System approach is very effective if it is done in a well defined, clear and consistent manner by considering all the factors (involved in Input, Processes and Output) at the current level and comparing them with those of the expected (or desired) level.
1 Development Researchers’ Network.2002. Evaluation ofEC Support to the Education Sector in ACP Countries: Synthesis Report. Brussels, Development Researchers’ Network.
2 MONITORING SCHOOL QUALITY: An Indicators Report: Statistical Analysis Report: December 2000. NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS. U S Department of Education Office of Educational Research and Improvement]
3 Sheerens J. 2004. Review of School and Instructional Effectiveness Research. Background paper for EFA Global Monitoring Report 2005.
4 Bloom B S (1976), Human characteristics and school learning, New York McGraw-Hill.
Panamalai R Guruprasad works as Technical Advisor at the Inspectorate of Education attached to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His key professional responsibilities include developing and monitoring K-Grade 6 School Self Assessment Programs at the Central level.
He has served as teacher, principal and Education Officer in school systems in India, South Asia and Africa. He has also worked in Macmillan India Limited (an associate company of Macmillan UK), and Chandamama India Limited (the oldest kids magazine in India).
His published works include 41 articles in teacher journals and an ebook entitled “Curiosity, Concepts and the Creative Classroom”.
He holds B.Sc in Physics, B.Ed and MA in Childcare and Education degrees and is currently working toward MS in Education Management (by distance learning).
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.