Norwalk High Under Administrative Eyes

An examination into the process behind the “School Quality Review”

Tierna Mahoney, Paw Print Reporter

In the first week of February, experts from outside the Norwalk school district came to visit NHS to observe classes and conduct a review in which they were to determine the “quality” and effectiveness of the school. Each school will be given a score, from either under-developed to exemplary, for four different categories: admission, curriculum and instruction, positive learning environment, and talent management (or how to manage staff).

This idea of a “school quality review” is not something that is entirely profound. In fact, most schools must be evaluated in order to receive their accreditation. For Norwalk high, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, or the NEASC, was the one to provide accreditation. This process occurs over the course of a few days, where an in-depth analysis is developed about the credibility of a school. According to Principal Roberts, the School Quality Review is “a more shortened version of the NEASC.”

Although the concept is far from old, the official “School Quality Review” was something that has been recently mandated by Dr. Estrella. This entire process would take a course of two years to complete, but Norwalk High was one of the first few schools in the district that were selected to be observed. Lasting a total of three days,  15 classes, seven teachers, a couple sets of students, and two groups of parents were either observed or interviewed. Although most of these groups were randomly selected by the specialist, six classes and four students were specifically chosen to be included in the process.

Mrs. Ramirez, an English teacher, was one of the three teachers that were purposefully selected to be observed. Whilst the preparation for the class was all the same for Ramirez, she did notice a brief shift in students when the specialists entered the class. 

“[when the observers walked in] the attention was diverted…but that lasted for just a few minutes … [the class] didn’t feel that it was different once they were here and the students accumulated to them being here,” says Ramirez. 

Furthermore, students were pulled from classes and called to the Library in order to be  questioned by the specialists. “The interviewer tried her best to make other people comfortable,” said Rachel Miller (‘23), one of the students that was selected, “Some kids didn’t want to be there or answer, but she tried her best to be accommodating in the way she asked questions.”

I actually don’t know what goals are being achieved, other than that there’s a…set of standards… the central office… in a sense… is saying they want all schools to meet this standard”

— Principal Roberts

Despite the disruption from the regular school days, many people were curious about what the implications of this review coincide. 

Principal Roberts said, “I don’t think the purpose of this is to talk about all the bad things that are happening, but sometimes when you don’t emphasize the positive, the tides recede. So it depends on what the reports say.”

Nonetheless, only time will tell what ways Norwalk High might change, or not change, based on the results of the School Quality Review.