Raise the Bar and Close the Gap


At last weeks principal network meeting we briefly talked about this notion of raising the bar on student achievement. Michael Fullan defines moral purpose for schools in terms of raising the bar and closing the achievement gap.

The conversation was started from a report of a neighbouring network conducting principal walkthroughs in each others schools in order to deepen their understandings about quality teaching. Quality teaching is as we know responsible for 30% of the variable in student achievement [Hattie 2002].

Our network received it’s aggregiated student achievement data for 2006 which at first glance looked very promising. Why then go to all the trouble of principal walkthroughs  if the student results were already so promising? This got me to then ponder were the results of standardised tests, which were used to set minimum standards the only measure of raising the bar?

Could raising the bar actually mean deepening a students understanding of say scientific concepts and their application or interconnectedness to other aspects of learning: e.g. environmental sustainability – water tanks for use on plants or economic sustainability when looking at stockmarkets and various share portfolios? Could raising the bar mean when students study Asian Studies they have a responsibility to make links with students in Asian countries and gain first hand responses?

I also questioned why some government schools have chosen to seek accrediation as an International Baccalaureate School – raising the bar? We have set aside time at the next network meeting to reconsider this notion of what it looks like to raise the bar in our schools