A Message from MSA-CESS President Henry G. Cram, Ed.D.
Over the past several weeks, I have attended a number of gatherings of school officials from across the country and around the world. Not surprisingly, the topic of discussion has always come around to what the future holds for education and what role and responsibility we have as school leaders in shaping that future.
Domestically, with the new presidential administration and Secretary of Education, we can expect that more and more state and local officials will have greater flexibility in determining how both public and private schools will be held accountable for their students’ performance.
Internationally, an increasing number of education ministries are already working to identify the means and measures for improving their educational systems, as well as holding them more accountable.
In both cases, I cannot help but think about the important role the Middle States accreditation process can play. In fact, accreditation may be more important now than ever before.
Not only is accreditation a proven and cost-effective approach to helping schools and students grow and improve, but it also gives parents and the community assurance that their school – whether public, private or charter – meets a certain set of research-based performance standards.
Further, the Middle States accreditation process examines schools in a holistic way, supplementing student-testing data to provide a more complete measure of a school’s performance and charts a strategic and realistic course for continuous school improvement.
Real improvement cannot be rushed. Real improvement requires time, community and student engagement, and sustained effort. Increasing student performance takes longer than short-term political leadership allows and will not always provide a monetary return on investment.
Education is not a business. Nor is it a monopoly to be improved upon with market competition, and it cannot be measured simply in terms of its immediate costs. Education is a public service and a community responsibility of enormous importance. In many ways, the value of education to society is immeasurable.
Moving forward, as education professionals, we should demand that the formulation of education policy, especially as it relates to determining a school’s effectiveness and continuous improvement, not be left to novices with little to no school experience.
Education is transformed only with the input of experienced professionals who possess a deep understanding of the changes that must be made and a knowledge of the proven practices and action steps to make those changes.