A School’s Report Card

It is common knowledge that Frankfurt International School issues thousands of student report cards each academic year. What many parents may not know is that FIS also receives its own “report card” from accrediting groups such as the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Visitors from these agencies come to our campuses to review our curriculum, observe the learning that takes place in our classrooms and meet with members of our diverse community. A successful accreditation visit allows the school to continue to serve the community and provides it with a report of suggestions for ongoing improvement.

When I was a boy, I was always a bit nervous when my report cards were issued. My parents had high expectations for me and I would wait anxiously as they opened the sealed envelopes, looking to see if they would smile or frown. Sometimes they would simply look at me with a puzzled expression that said “Is this report really about our Paul?” which was usually good news – but occasionally not.

When I became an educator and later, a school leader, I realized how important these regular assessments were for children and for schools as well. One of the great advantages offered by these visiting accreditation groups is they offer an outsider’s perspective. In their work, they have visited multiple other international schools and have developed an expertise in what represents the best our profession has to offer. Their global perspective and probing questions help our school to achieve its goal of being a leader among all international schools, not just those in Germany.

Earlier this year, NEASC Director Jeff Bradley, and Margaret Frieswyk, were at FIS for a preliminary NEASC visit. Dr. Bradley is involved in some of the more significant NEASC visits and chose to come to FIS to see if our school could help develop a model for school improvement that could be followed by other international schools around the world. Using “report card” terms, NEASC had recognized that FIS was an institution that had a long and successful history of pursuing excellence through reflective evaluation, and could help other schools to do the same. The visit was a great success and we look forward to a more extensive collaboration with NEASC in 2018.

Even though the opportunity rarely presented itself, as a boy I was taught not to brag about my report card. However, as your Head of School, I cannot help but tell you that I am looking forward to hearing the report from NEASC and the IBO that will be issued over the next two years. Yes, I’ll admit, I enjoy reading the accolades that will be given to our students and teachers for the exceptional results and experiences that are found at FIS. But I am also looking forward to setting our sights on an even higher level of school achievement.

In closing, I’ll also take this opportunity to remind our parents that report cards – for children or for schools – are not judgments, but invitations. They invite us to better understand the learning needs that are necessary to advance to higher levels of understanding and performance. Parents, and institutions, should engage in the process with an open mind and optimism that further growth is attainable. And for that reason, we can all approach the assessment process – and a report card – with a smile.

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