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Guaranteeing Academic Success—Why Not?

By Hannah Hartman
Guaranteeing Academic Success—Why Not?

When first asked if I had ever worked at a school that guaranteed academic success I paused and had to think long and hard.
Over the years I have worked at many schools internationally and they were all mission-driven around the idea of academic success for students wrapped up in a package of creating effective communicators, globally minded individuals, lifelong learners, etc. Academic success is implied through the program we offer and way we market our schools, but it has not really been explicitly promised to our families and students. But why not?
A guarantee is made when we have a strong belief in what we offer. A belief in our program, our teachers, and our students. Really it is a belief in ourselves as leaders to honestly be able to achieve our school mission. It is a promise that we indeed offer what we say we offer. We get guarantees on the quality of our computers, cars... you name it, but why not on something as important as our students learning?
As administrators of schools, we need to be held accountable that the decisions we have made have positively impacted student learning. We need accountability to ensure that the teachers we have hired are doing their job in the classroom, and if they are not, that coaching is provided to be sure that they have a positive impact on learning for all students in all classrooms. We need to be sure that we are providing the resources required for teachers to do their jobs well.
As international schools increase in number and become more competitive, we are focused on marketing and enrollment. Why not guarantee learning? We need to remember our focus—why we got into this business to begin with. To improve learning and to see all students growing and being successful. At TCIS we have decided to hold ourselves accountable for this.
When we began writing academic guarantees this fall with our students and families we made a statement saying, “We want to work for you and be accountable.” We recognize the role we all play in student success from the board, to the administration, to the student support services, to the teachers, the parents, and the students. We want to work together to achieve academic success for all students and we are not afraid to promise this because we believe in our program and our school community and will do whatever is needed for each individual student to help get them there.
Hannah Hartman is Lower School Principal at the Thai-Chinese International School in Bangplee Yai ?Samutprakarn, Thailand.

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