Education Starts at Home & The Best Measure of School Success

If you are into teaching stuff to kids, like education or coaching soccer, you might find this EconTalk episode with guest Robert Pondiscio interesting.

A good deal of the discussion is on the success of Success Academy Charter School.

Most of Success’s success (LOL) is from high parent involvement, setting expectations for hard work and holding parents and students accountable to those expectations.

They’ve discovered the same secret to success that Tom Byer uncovered in the soccer world: Soccer Starts at Home.

I also thought it was comical that the criticism against their school model is that it’s too hard, as if there are ways to teach without the kids having to put out much effort of their own.

Maybe that way will exist when we can do data uploads to our brains, like in The Matrix.

But, until I do, there are good lessons to be learned here.

The best measure of school success

I also wanted to point out, as I’ve done before, that the way we measure educational outcomes is dumb.

It’s like measuring the difference between Burger King and McDonald’s on how long it takes to fill an order, order accuracy and how clean their garbage cans are.

But, the most meaningful measure of burger joint success is if enough people choose to eat there. We don’t need burger bureaucrats inserting themselves between us and our burger joints to decide for us.

Same with schools. I don’t care what the average standardized test score is for students at one school vs. another. I find such comparisons dumb because they doesn’t recognize there are many other factors involved than the school, there are wide distributions within each student population and the average or median numbers are not only meaningless, they don’t exist.

It’s like when you have a 5’6″ person and a 6’2″ person and say their average height is 5’10”. The 5’10” average means nothing.

Any time compiling such stats for schools is a waste.

The only meaningful measure of school success is whether parents are happy with their choice. Period.

The best way to measure this is to observe student retention when the parent has other options. High retention is good.

The second best way to measure is by asking parents two questions that many businesses ask them, “Would you recommend us? Why or why not?”


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