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Seeing is believing when assessing standards in the classroom

Our school quality reviews are based on direct observation in the classroom and lead
to objective, evidence-based reports to guide education authorities on how to drive up standards. Schools in California are among the latest to benefit from our approach.


Mountain View Whisman School District (MVWSD) is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, where some of the world’s leading technology companies are headquartered. Despite the relative prosperity of its catchment area, the district faces challenges to improve educational outcomes for a diverse 5000-strong student population, which represents a wide range of ethnicities, languages, cultures and economic backgrounds. When MVWSD appointed a new superintendent, his 100-day plan called for in-depth fact-finding and root cause analysis of the issues that were holding the district back.


We planned and implemented a quality review program covering the district’s eight elementary schools and two middle schools, plus the district office. Our team spent two days at each school, and five days at the district office, intensively collecting evidence via classroom observations, interviews with administrators, and focus groups with students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders. Class visits were the cornerstone of our research, observing how well students learn as a result of the teaching they experience.


Our reports provided dozens of recommendations for accelerating and sustaining improvement. School leaders acknowledged that the review findings were ‘honest’, identifying the district’s strengths and weaknesses and pinpointing the changes needed. Our individual school-level reports, overarching district-wide report and school meta-analysis provided the superintendent and school principals with dozens of recommendations for accelerating and sustaining improvement. We also supplied self-evaluation training and technical support to assist MVWSD with building on our findings to deliver improvements in the curriculum, leadership and accountability, school culture, partnerships with families and the local community and, most importantly, teaching and learning in the classroom.

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