The big four—SATs, teacher to student ratio, APs, and college enrollment—are usually not hard to find on school and third-party Web sites. However, other numbers are also illuminating, even if they require more digging. Here are some that experts say are worth the hunt.
Average years teaching is a good number to gauge teacher experience, says Alfred DiEmedio, director of Teacher Preparation Programs and assistant professor at Wilmington University. “When teachers remain for years, they build a culture of learning and pass it on to students,” he says.
In general that’s true, Buttram says, but like so many other statistics, it’s not as straightforward as “the higher the better.” “A very young staff concerns me, but a high ratio of very senior staff does, too. You want to see a good distribution of teacher experience,” she says. Other useful staff numbers? “How many years teachers and administrators stay in the building can indicate something about job satisfaction. A high turnover rate is worrisome.”
Another number that is worth mentioning about leadership in this ongoing challenging economy, Baldwin says, is actually about per student funding. It may not seem important to ask the question of charters, because the cost doesn’t come directly out of parents’ pockets. But paired with state testing numbers, it speaks to an administration’s leadership and resourcefulness in finding ways to produce a well-prepared graduating body that doesn’t leave behind the most talented and challenged teens. CSW, Conrad, DMA and Cab Calloway School of the Arts each get about $10,950 per student; Pencader Charter School gets $10,140, and Positive Outcomes gets $20,900, according to the DOE.
“As an administrator, the tight economy has had a positive impact on me,” Baldwin says. “It has taught me to ask, Is that a resource I can use for education of everything I see?”