School evaluations are valuable

As a longtime city resident and educator, I read with great interest Erica L. Green's article last week on Baltimore City's school effectiveness reviews ("City school evaluations show problems in instruction," June 19).

These reviews provide an opportunity for the dedicated faculty in our schools to refine and improve their practice. The school effectiveness review process begins with a self-analysis by each school's faculty, students, parents and partners. That analysis is studied by trained observers who then spend two days in the school observing and talking with all members of the school community. The observers then share their observations with the school community.

Such self-analysis with feedback from experts outside the team may sound familiar to athletes who benefit from feedback from coaches and to lawyers who practice arguments in front of their colleagues before going to court for critical cases and to doctors who seek each other's help with difficult cases and to writers who ask colleagues to comment on their work. This kind of collaboration is all too frequently absent in public education in the United States, however.

Many independent schools in this country engage in such reviews regularly. Great Britain has a similar process for its state schools. Yet, for public schools in the United States this is a new kind of help. Good for city schools!

Muriel Berkeley, Baltimore

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