With the start of the school year, schools will be receiving their accountability ratings, and in many states schools will receive an A-F rating. Sadly, winners will be lauded, and losers will labeled based on one simple letter derived from complex and difficult to explain formulas. Basically, this one little letter will be used to rate the entire body of work in a school, much of which has no bearing on the school's rating.
That being said, some leaders will use the letter grade to promote how they will move up in performance to the next letter grade. C's will aspire for B's, and B's will strive for the all important A's. While aspiring for improvement is critically important, I would like to challenge you not to push anyone to chase any of the letters in A-F rating system. Instead I would like to push you to set your sights on a higher standard, the letter missing in the A-F system, E.
If you want to set your sights on a rating that matters, then choose the letter, E. Here is what E can and should stand for when developing your plans to move to the next level.
Earn the E Rating
Excellence - We should aspire to be excellent in every thing from how we answer the phone to how we take the trash, to how we win games, and yes, how we create the very best learning environments in every classroom that guarantee learning for all kids.
Effective - School leaders should strive to create schools that are always finding exemplars of high effectiveness and replicate those effective processes and actions throughout the entire school. When we chase effectiveness, the letter in the rating system will come.
Efficient - We should identify practices that waste people's time and eliminate them. We must develop more efficient processes that accelerate productivity and push everyone in the organization to become lean and efficient with their work flow. Efficiency is the pathway to excellence.
Everyday - Bottom line is this. The best schools chase excellence every day, and they constantly find ways to be more effective and efficient, and they do that by eliminating anything that prevents the schools and its people from getting the best out of its students.
E is a more Meaningful Goal.
As you start the school year, I challenge you not to make a big deal out of your rating. Schools are so much more than a grade, and when we focus on evaluating ourselves based on the letter E, we become the schools we aspire to be for all kids and all staff. Finally, we become the kind of schools that our communities believe in and rally to support as we reach for the most important goal, excellence for all students and all adults.