Teachers strive to do everything in their power that can better their school, but identifying the highest performing schools can still be difficult. Namely, this lapse in communication stems from the ways in which we identify high achieving schools. Sure, test scores and graduation rates are an integral part of the conversation, but there are many measures of performance that are more subtle yet equally valuable. When assessing a given institution from the top down and measuring its achievement in education, consider the following factors.

Understanding of Unified District Curriculum

In many cases, one of the biggest indications that a school is achieving highly will be that its standards extend beyond just one institution. The National Center for Educational Achievement has indicated that most high performing schools have clearly defined curriculums laid out by their district leaders. By determining a basic understanding of specific skills, educational strategies, and content that all students included therein must master, a district lays the foundation for its respective schools to perform at a higher level. This is due partially to the heightened communication that this sort of uniformity can breed between teachers and educators.

Openness and Awareness to Fiscal Limitations 

There is a common misconception that in order for a school to be high achieving, its students need to come from families of considerable wealth. While it would be asinine to write this off – money can provide dramatically improved educational resources – it is not a comprehensive statement. Schools that serve predominantly lower-income families are also often high performing. One of the lurking variables is that many schools with lower-income students don’t do enough to extend knowledge about the way fiscal position pertains to future achievement. For example, an article from The Washington Post, suggests that low-income students aren’t provided with enough information regarding collegiate financial aid to make the most informed decision possible. The article was picked up and tweeted by College Summit, an organization that works on increasing the opportunity to attend secondary education.

Involvement in Extracurriculars

While there is certainly room for debate on the issue, high levels of extracurricular involvement may be indicative of high achievement. As the National Center for Education Statistics has pointed out, students who are regularly involved in extracurricular activities average a 15 percent higher classroom attendance rate than those who do not.

Students involved in extracurriculars average 15 percent higher attendance

This is likely due in large to the fact that many of these clubs, teams, or activities have attendance requirements in order for students to be allowed to participate. In addition to this, being a part of an extracurricular organization boosts a students sense of identity and pride for their school. This, in turn, has the potential to become cyclical, causing other students to want to get involved. Though not completely proven, there is evidence to suggest that extracurricular involvement is correlated with academic performance.