What Makes a School Great?
Test scores and rankings don't tell the whole story
Gina Hubbard, principal of Joseph J. Greenberg Elementary School in Northeast Philadelphia, says that when judging the quality of a school, parents should look beyond test scores and rankings.
“There are so many great schools in Philadelphia that have not earned high rewards for test scores, but the parents and the community are very happy,” she says.
According to Hubbard, a great school:
1. Connects with parents
“It’s about building those relationships so you really do become family,” Hubbard says. “We conscientiously make a point of creating a climate that’s welcoming, supports and listens to parents and conveys how much we care about their children.”
This starts the minute that you walk through the front door. “We train our secretaries and staff to welcome parents into the building, answer all of their questions and respond to their needs,” she says. “Everybody in the building is expected to be accommodating to create that welcoming atmosphere.”
2. Has thoughtful, caring teachers
“Teachers who show that they care about the kids down to the minute details of each child,” Hubbard says.
She says that having teachers who understood “each child’s idiosyncrasies and needs and what motivates them” helped her school get through the challenges that emerged this year while dealing with the pandemic and remote learning.
3. Offers programming, afterschool activities and clubs
“You have to have some fun in school to counter all the serious work you’re doing,” Hubbard says.
And, Hubbard says, when a school has all those elements, “whether it has great test scores or not, parents will tell you it’s a great school.”