Tag Archives: false leads

Evaluating Schools: Trophies, Plaques and Other Displays of Achievements / Mengevaluasi Sekolah: Penunjukan Piala, Plakat dan Penghargaan Lain

Standard

One common thing that parents feel represents the quality of a school is award cabinets full of trophies and walls covered with certificates and plaques of achievement.  Perhaps this comes from the fact that professionals (doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc.) put their degrees and certificates on display in their offices.

>>>Salah satu hal yang sering dilihat ortu karena dianggap menunjukkan mutunya sekolah adalah lemari2 penghargaan penuh dengan piala, dan tembok yang  ditutupi plakat dan sertifikat penhargaan.  Mungkin ini berasal dari fakta bahwa para ahli2 (dokter, pengacara, ilmuwan, dll.) memasang ijazah2 dan sertifikat2 mereka di dinding kantor untuk diperlihatkan para tamu.

Unfortunately, it’s not the same thing.  What those experts put on their walls represents their own achievements and not that of the place they work in.  Looking at trophies to evaluate the quality of a school is the same thing – it tells you about individuals or even teams that earned them, but it rarely tells you about the schools.

>>>Sayang sekali, tidak sama.  Apa yang ditaruh di dinding oleh para ahli2 mewakili pencapaian mereka sendiri, dan bukan pencapaian tempat kerjanya.  Melihat semua penghargaan itu untuk menilai mutu sekolahnya sama saja dengan menilai instansi menurut ijazah orang – itu akan menjelaskan tentang orang2 ataupun tim yang punya, tapi jarang tentang sekolahnya.

So, how can you tell if a display is an indication of the quality of a school?  Below are several factors that should be evaluated together.  Some items will require investigation on your part, and you may not be able to get information for some of them.  I have separated the criteria into three distinct topics: Awards, Award-Givers, and Competitions.  To help you, I have added:

>>>Jadi, bagaimana dapat mengetahui apakah tempat pameran penghargaan adalah indikator kemutuan sebuah sekolah?  Dibawah ini adalah beberapa faktor yang sebaiknya dievaluasikan bersama.  Ada beberapa item yang akan perlu investigasi dari kami, dan mungkin kamu tidak akan dapat menemukan informasi untuk beberapa diantaranya.  Saya telah memisahkannya ke dalam 3 topik: Penghargaan, Pemberi Penghargaan dan Lomba.  Demi membantumu, saya tambah:

 

Source: Where you can most likely get the information. “All” means  school, all media formats including the Internet, award giver, independent reviewers, NGOs, government, libraries, etc.

>>>Sumber:  Kemungkinan besar dimana informasinya berada.  “Semua” berarti sekolah2, semua media berita termasuk Internet, pemberi penghargaan, penilai merdeka, NGO, pemerintahan, perpustakaan, dll.


Difficulty: How challenging it will be to obtain the information.  There are various considerations for difficulty, including how much searching and researching you’ll have to do, how likely it is that the information exists, and whether there are people trying to conceal it.

>>>Kesulitan:  Betapa susah mendapatkan informasinya.  Ada beberapa faktor kesukarannya, termasuk berapa banyak pencarian dan penelitian yang harus dilakukan, betapa mungkin informasi memang ada, dan apakah ada orang yang berusaha menyembunyikannya.


Value: The relative value of the information in your choosing a school.  This value is affected by the sources and difficulty, as well as its own value.  Objective information (data) is far more valuable than subjective information (opinion).

>>>Nilai:  Nilai informasi yang didapat dalam proses memilih sekolah.  Nilai ini terpengaruhi oleh sumber dan kesulitan, apalagi nilai tersendirinya.  Informasi yang obyektif (data) jauh lebih berharga daripada yang subyektif (seperti pendapat).

 

Please note that these three values may vary from place to place because of a number of different factors, thus these are just estimates.

>>>Tolong perhatikan bahwa ke-3 indikator ini dapat bervariasi dari tempat ke tempat oleh karena ada beberapa faktor yang beranekaragaman yang dapat mempengaruhinya, lalu ini hanya perkiraan2.

 

Section 1: Awards/Penghargaan

This category is the easiest to evaluate because almost all of the information you need is in front of you in the awards cabinet, and  the rest you can request from the  school.  Despite the ease of evaluation, it can actually give you some valuable statistical information.

>>>Kategori ini yang paling gampang dievaluasi karena hampir semua informasi yang dibutuhkan ada di depan anda di lemari penghargaan, dan sisanya dapat diminta dari sekolahnya.  Walaupun mudah dinilai, ini dapat memberikan informasi statistis yang berharga.

 

#1.1: Student Enrollment Vs. Recipient Percentage / Pendaftaran Murid Vs. Persentase Penerima

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: medium

Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: sedang

How many students were enrolled at that school in each age group/grade level as well as overall each year and what percentage of the student population/age/grade level won something?

>>>Berapa banyak murid terdaftar di sekolah itu dalam setiap umur/tingkat kelas dan dalam setiap tahun, dan berapalah persentase populasi murid2 yang memenangkan sesuatu?
The ratio of students enrolled compared to students who won can be an important indicator of the quality of the school (or, it can indicate the quality of their entrance requirements and/or the students who are attracted to that school).   If looking at a narrow age group (one to two years), the results may be far less representative because each child’s abilities can vary widely from another in different areas, and looking at a grade level’s ratio is similarly misleading.  If only certain strata (such as particular ages, grades or socio-economic groups) are winning awards, this indicates that there may be a problem, or that the results are most likely not attributable to the  school.

>>>Rasio murid2 yang terdaftar dibandingkan murid2 yang menang dapat menjadi indikator penting mengenai mutu sekolahnya (atau, itu dapat menunjukkan mutunya standar penerimaan murid baru di sekolah itu, dan/atau mutu murid yang tertarik dengan sekolahnya secara umum).  Bila melihat murid didasarkan umur, dan hanya melihat murid dengan selisih umur paling 1-2 tahun, hasilnya dapat menjadi jauh lebih tidak mewakili oleh karena kemampuan setiap anak dibandingkan yang lain dalam macam2 mata pelajaran bisa sangat bervariasi, dan kalau melihat rasio didasarkan tingkat kelas juga tidak begitu tepat.  Apa bila hanya ada lapisan2 tertentu (seperti umur2 , tingkat kelas atau lapisan2 sosial-keuangan) dapat memenangkan penghargaan, ini menunjukkan bahwa mungkin ada masalah, atau hasilnya tidak berkat sekolahnya.

 

#1.2: Recipient Breadth / Keanekaragaman Pemenang

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: medium
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: sedang

How many different students/teams won those trophies each year?

>>>Berapa murid/tim yang berbeda memenangkan penghargaannya setiap tahun?

The more different winners there are, the better.  If a small number of people earn trophies each year, especially if you see the same names again and again, the less likely it is because of the school.  When there are only a few names, it’s usually especially gifted students in that case, and they may not be dependent on their school to excel.  In other words, when you see the same names again and again, year after year, they are not usually representative of the school’s quality but of their own.

>>>Semakin beranekaragam pemenangnya, semakin bagus.  Jika hanya ada beberapa orang yang memenangkan penghargaan setiap tahun, terutama kalau ada banyak yang diraih oleh orang2 yang sama, semakin kecil kemukinan prestasi itu gara2 sekolahnya.  Biasanya, dalam situasi seperti itu, merekalah murid2 yang sangat berbakat, dan mereka mungkin tidak tergantung pada sekolahnya untuk meraih prestasi.  Dengan kata lain, ketika kamu melihat nama2 yang sama berkali2, bertahun2, mereka biasanya tidak menunjukkan mutu sekolahnya tapi dirinya sendiri.

 

#1.3: Subject and Recipient Breadth / Keanekaragaman Topik dan Penerima

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: high
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: tinggi

How many awards were won by different students/teams in different subjects/skills each year?

>>>Berapa banyak  penghargaan dimenangkan oleh murid/tim yang berbeda dalam mapel/ketrampilan setiap tahun?
The more different types of subjects and skills there are that are represented by the awards, the better, especially if they aren’t just sports awards.  A wide variety shows that the students and school don’t only choose and win in certain types of competitions, but are willing to take on different types of challenges and have a variety of skill sets and knowledge.

>>>Semakin banyak mapel dan ketrampilan yang diwakili oleh penghargaan2 yang ada, semakin bagus, terutama kalau bukan hanya di bidang olah raga.  Beranekaragaman menunjukkan bahwa murid2 dan sekolah tidak hanya memilih beberapa macam lomba, justru mereka rela bersaing di tantangan tipe bermacam2, dan mempunyai kemampuan yang bervariasi disertai pengetahuan yang luas.

 

#1.4: Total Awards & Awards per Year / Jumlah Penghargaan & Penghargaan per Tahun

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: low
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: rendah

Look at the number of trophies overall and how many were won each year.

>>>Hitunglah penghargaan.  Berapa yang dimenangkan setiap tahu?

 

The more awards received each year, the better.    If there are many rewards earned every year, that’s great.  If some years have lots of awards and others have few, that’s not as good.  If there are a large number of years with few or no awards,or it looks like a roller coaster on a graph, you should ask questions.

>>>Semakin banyak setiap tahun, semakin bagus.  Apabila ada banyak penghargaan setiap tahun, itu hebat.  Kalau ada tahun2 dengan banyak, dan ada dengan sedikit, itu kurang bagus.  Jika ada cukup banyak  tahun dimana tidak ada atau hanya ada beberapa penghargaan, atau jumlah per tahun ketika dijadikan grafik terlihat seperti gunung2, maka kamu harus bertanya.

 

#1.5: Number of Years of Achievement / Jumlah Tahun denga Penghargaan

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: low
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: rendah

For how many years does the school have awards?

>>>Untuk berapa tahun ada penghargaan2?

 

Obviously, awards won every year, combined with the other factors, is a better sign than if there are some years in which there are no awards, but you should ask why some years don’t have awards.  It is possible that a disaster, for example, prevented participation.

>>>Jelas, kalau ada penghargaan2 setiap tahun, dikombinasikan dengan faktor2 lain, itulah petunjuk yang lebih bagus daripada ada tahun2 dimana tidak ada penghargaan, tetapi kamu sebaiknya menanyakan kenapa tidak ada penghargaan.  Mungkin, contohnya, ada malapetaka yang menghalangi partisipasi murid2nya.

 

#1.6: Participation Acknowledgement / Penghargaan Partisipasi

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy; Value:   low
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah; Nilai:   rendah

How many of the awards are actually just acknowledging participation?

>>>Berapa banyak penghargaan sebenarnya hanya mengakui kehadiran murid?

 

Acknowledgements of participation are NOT awards but are just like a notice of attendance.  Unfortunately, in countries like Indonesia, these notices are often given even to people who arrived very late, left very early, or didn’t attend but were signed up.   It is worthless in evaluating quality and – while it may show the number of students who participated, it may actually show that the school’s management may be willing to try to make the  school look good by filling up empty space with worthless papers.  If, however, the school keeps detailed records about all the entries into competitions, and those records are available for public scrutiny, the attendance data can indicate student willingness to participate in competitions, which is a positive indicator.  Lack of participation by most students sometimes indicates poor self-esteem and/or an unwillingness to take risks, which may reflect on the school’s ability to foster confidence.

>>>Pengakuan partisipasi bukanlah penghargaan tapi hanyalah bukti kehadiran.  Sayang sekali, di negara seperti Indonesia, bukti ini seringkali diberikan kepada peserta walaupun mereka datang telat banget, pulang jauh lebih awal, ataupun tidak hadir sama sekali.  Kertas itu tidak berarti mengenai mutu dan – walaupun itu mungkin menunjukkan jumlah murid yang berpeserta, itu juga mungkin menunjukkan bahwa manajmen sekolah tersebut rela membuat sekolahnya terlihat bagus dengan mengisi tempat2 kosong dengan kertas yang tidak berharga.  Namun, jika sekolahnya punya informasi lengkap tentang semua yang terdaftar dalam lomba2, dan siapapun dapat menelitinya  dengan seksama, informasi kehadirannya dapat menunjukkan betapa rela para murid berpartisipasi dalam lomba2, dan itu bagus.  Kalau kebanyakan murid tidak berpartisipasi, itulah terkadang indikator bahwa ada masalah kePDan dan/atau ada ketidakrelaan mengambil resiko, dan itulah mungkin petunjuk tentang kemampuan sekolahnya membuat para murid PD.

 

#1.7: Awards without Names / Penghargaan tanpa Nama

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: low
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: rendah

How many of the awards don’t have the winner’s name on them?

>>>Berapa penghargaan tidak ada cantuman nama pemenangnya?

 

Lack of names on awards isn’t always a bad thing, but if a fair number of awards don’t have names on them, this may show that the quality of the competitions was poor, or the contest didn’t have a lot of funding, although there are certainly other reasons, such as a lack of attention to detail, or –  rarely – fake awards.

>>>Ketidakberadaan nama pemenangnya tidak selalu indikator buruk,  tapi jika ada cukup banyak penghargaan tanpa nama, ini dapat menunjukkan mutu lomba2nya jelek, atau lombanya tidak dapat cukup banyak dana, namun ada beberapa alasan lain, seperti kurang teliti, atau – jarang – penghargaannya palsu).

 

 

Section 2: Award-Givers/Pemberi Penghargaan

This category is much more difficult to evaluate, especially if involved parties want to conceal affiliations, but the results can give you a very good idea of the true worth of awards, as well as an insight into the transparency and honesty of all involved.  The information may be available from the school, libraries and media sources (eg: newspapers), the award-giving organization, and/or a governmental body with the right of oversight.

>>>Kategori ini jauh lebih susah dievaluasikan, terutama kalau ada yang terlibat yang tidak ingin afiliasinya terbongkar, namun hasil penelitian dapat menjelaskan nilai penghargaan, apalagi memberikan informasi lebih lanjut tentang ketransparenan dan kejujuran semua yang terlibat.  Informasi dapat dicari di sekolahnya, perpustakaan dan sumber media (contoh: koran2), organisasi yang memberikan penghargaannya, dan/atau badan pemerintahan yang berwenang.

 

#2.1: Types of Award Givers / Macam Pemberi Penghargaan

Source: all;   Difficulty: easy to difficult (affiliation may be concealed);   Value: medium to high
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: mudah sampai susah;   Nilai: sedang sampai tinggi

Who gave out and who signed the awards (ie: The school you’re in? Another school?  A business? An educational institution? An individual? A governmental board or committee?  [if yes, is it affiliated with this school?] )

>>>Siapa pemberi dan siapa yang menandatangani penghargaan2nya (Sekolah itu sendiri? Sekolah lain? Sebuah usaha? Sebuah instansi pendidikan?  Seorang? Sebuah badan atau dewan pemerintahan? [kalau ya, apakah terafiliasi dengan sekolah itu?])?

 

If the award is from the school you’re looking at, it may be that the competition was an internal one only, which decreases the award’s value, or there may not have been an actual competition at all – the school was trying to boost student moral or just be nice.  If the award is from an affiliated school, this also decreases the value of the award, but if it is from an unaffiliated school or, better yet, a rival, this is positive.  If it is from a business, educational institution or part of the government, this is very positive.  Awards from individuals may or may not hold value, depending on several factors (e.g.:  the reason for the award; whether the giver is associated with the school, such as a financial supporter, or related to the winner; etc.).

>>>Apabila ada penghargaan dari sekolah yang kamu sedang meneliti, mungkin saja itu lomba untuk muridnya saja, dan itu membuat nilai penghargaannya kurang bagus, atau mungkin tidak ada lomba sama sekali karena sekolahnya ingin meningkatkan kePDan murid dengan menunjukkan sesuatu yang bagus tentangnya, atau mungkin juga kebaikan saja.  Jika penghargaannya dari sebuah sekolah yang terafiliasi dengan sekolah tsb., ini juga mengurangi nilai penghargaannya, namun kalau itu dari sekolah yang tidak terikat sekolah tsb, atau lebih bagus lagi dari sekolah saingan, itu lebih bernilai.  Kalau dari perusahaan, institusi pendidikan atau bagian pemerintahan, ini biasanya sangat bagus.  Penghargaan2 dari orang tidak tentu ada nilai, tergantung beberapa faktor (contoh: alasan untuk penghargaan; hubungan pemberi dengan sekolahnya, seperti pendana atau berikatan dengan pemenang; dll.).

 

#2.2:  Unaffiliated Award Givers / Pemberi Penghargaan yang Tidak Terafiliasi

Source: all;   Difficulty: easy (once 2.1 is completed);   Value: medium to high
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: mudah (setelah 2.1 selesai);   Nilai: sedang sampai tinggi

From how many of those external sources were there awards?

>>>Ada berapa sumber luar untuk semua penghargaannya?

 

In other words, what percentage of the awards came from sources other than the school, its supporters and its affiliates?  The larger the percentage, the better.

>>>Dengan kata lain, persentase berapa penghargaan berasal dari sumber2 yang tidak terhubung dengan sekolahnya?   Semakin besar persentase, semakin bagus.

 

#2.3: Credibility of Unaffiliated Award Givers / Kredibilitas Pemberi Penghargaan yang Tidak Terafiliasi

Source: all;   Difficulty: medium to hard (depending on culture and risks to involved parties);   Value: high
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: sedang sampai tinggi;   Nilai: tinggi

How many of those external sources are credible and respected?  How many are experts in the areas awarded?

>>>Berapa diantara semua sumbernya diakui dan dihormati?  Berapa diantaranya memang ahli dalam bidang yang diuji?

 

Obviously, sources with a poor reputation or which are not expert in the area that was tested are a poorer indicator of the quality of the winners than those places with good reputations, especially if experts in the field of the competition are directly involved.

>>>Jelas, sumber dengan reputasi yang buruk atau tidak ahli dalam bidang yang diuji bukanlah petunjuk kemutuan pemenangnya, terutama kalau dibandingkan dengan sumber2 yang bereputasi bagus, apalagi kalau ada ahli2 dalam bidang2 lomba yang membantu dengan lomba dari awal sampai selesai.

 

Section 3:  Competitions / Lomba

Some things in this section may be easy to evaluate while others may prove extremely difficult.  The sources of information and the challenges in obtaining the information will basically be the same as the second section.  The only significant difference is the range of difficulty is much broader, and the quality of the results will vary as to how much they reveal.

>>>Ada beberapa hal di seksi ini yang mungkin dapat dievaluasikan dengan gampang tapi ada yang lain yang mungkin amat susah.  Sumber2 informasi dan tantangannya mendapatkan informasinya akan sama seperti seksi ke2.  Perbedaannya yang signifikan adalah keanekaragaman kesulitan yang jauh lebih variatif, dan mutu hasilnya dengan betapa banyak yang dijelaskan.

 

#3.1: Pre-Contest Availability of Scoring System and Rules / Penyediaan Pra-lomba Rubrik Nilai dan Peraturan Pra-Lomba

Source: school, award giver, media;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: medium
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: sedang

Pre-competition, were the standards for scoring and rules for the contest made available to the contestants well in advance?  Was availability equal for all invitees, or did certain invitees get preferential treatment?

>>>Pra-lomba, apakah peraturan lomba disertai rujukan penilaian disediakan untuk semua peserta jauh sebelum hari lombanya?  Apakah persediaannya sama untuk semua yang diundang, ataukah beberapa diantaranya dapat informasinya lebih dulu?

If the standards and rules are not made available well ahead of the contest date, then clearly the competition’s quality and value is questionable.  Students and their coaches cannot properly prepare if they don’t have this information.  If only certain contestants receive them in a timely manner, and others receive it too late or not at all, this indicates incompetence, a lack of professionalism or cheating on the part of the committee and staff of the competition.  Unequal or preferential distribution of this information is a red flag that may indicate lack of professionalism or worse.

>>>Apabila peraturan lomba dan rujukan penilaian tidak disediakan jauh sebelum hari lombanya, jelas mutunya dan nilainya lomba itu dapat dipertanyakan.  Murid2 dan pelatihnya tidak dapat siap2 dengan benar jika informasi itu tidak ada.  Kalau ada peserta2 tertentu yang mendapatkan semua informasi ini pada waktu yang benar,  tapi ada yang lain yang mendapatkannya telat atau tidak dapat, ini berarti ada masalah ketidamampuan, kekurangan profesionalisme ataupun kecurangan dari pihak komitenya dan stafnya lomba.  Persediaan yang tidak dilakukan secara adil dapat menunjukkan ada masalah profesionalism atau lebih buruk.

 

#3.2: Pre-Contest Help / Bantuan Pra-Lomba

Source: school;   Difficulty: easy;   Value: medium
Sumber: sekolah;   Kesulitan: mudah;   Nilai: sedang

What kind of coaching and help from their own school did students receive in preparation for competitions?

>>>Pelatihan dan bantuan macam apa yang diberi kepada murid2 sebelum masuk lomba2?

 

Are coaches friendly and helpful; provide constructive, kind feedback using uplifting words and phrases; and do they promote creativity and flexibility; offer regular practice sessions that are of a reasonable duration, and build up key skills needed for the contest; work with contestants on both a group and individual basis; and insist on reasonable rules for practice, sleep and study?  If so, this shows that the school is developing  the quality,  character, ability, readiness, social skills and emotional maturity, which is good.  The absence of things like this shows that the school may not be concerned with the development of students as a complete person and may focus too much on certain attributes, which will result in an imbalanced student.  If you observe destructive behavior, like negative reinforcement of behavior such as insults, demeaning comments  and rude teasing, this  is a very bad indicator and should be investigated to find out of it is limited to just particular individuals or is standard practice for the school.

>>>Apakah para pelatih ramah dan berguna; menyediakan saran yang membangun, mendorong dan mengembangkan dengan kata2 baik; dan apakah mereka mengembangkan kreatifitas dan fleksibilitas; menawarkan sesi2 pelatihan secara rutin yang jarak waktunya wajar, dan mengembangkan kemampuan pokok yang dibutuhkan lombanya; bekerjasama dengan para peserta secara grup maupun individu; dan mendorong peraturan yang wajar dan masuk akal untuk pelatihan, tidur dan pembelajaran?  Kalau begitu, ini menunjukkan bahwa sekolahnya sedang mengembangkan mutu, watak,  kemampuan, kesiapan, kemampuan sosial, dan kedewasaan emosi, dan itu bagus.  Kekurangan hal2 seperti ini menunjukkan bahwa sekolah itu mungkin tidak mempedulikan pengembangan murid2 secara utuh dan mungkin terlalu terfokus kepada hal2 tertentu,  dengan hasilnya murid2nya tidak akan berkembang  dengan maksimal ataupun secara utuh.  Kalau kamu melihat sikap yang merusak, penghinaan, pengejekan maupun penggodaan,  inilah indikator yang  sangat buruk dan harus diteliti untuk menemukan apakah ini masalah orang2 tertentu atau memang ini cara sekolahnya.

 

#3.3: Judges (Number, Qualifications, Final Decision-maker) / Juri (Jumlah, Kualifikasi, Pemutus Akhir

Source: all;   Difficulty: medium;   Value: medium
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: sedang;   Nilai: sedang

How many judges were involved in the live scoring of participants, what qualifications did they possess, and was there one who had the right to make the final decision?

>>>Ada berapa juri yang menilai penampilan para peserta secara langsung, kualifikasi mereka apa, dan apakah ada satupun diantaranya yang berhak keputusan terakhir?

 

Any competition that wants to look credible must have a panel of judges when live scoring is needed.  One judge is poor, even if the judge is an external expert; two judges is far too often standard and can lead to scoring problems; whereas three or more judges can provide a balanced result,  especially if they are all experts in the areas being evaluated.  If each judge is an expert in one particular area that’s being scored, then that reduces the value of the awards.  If one judge has the final say on who wins, and that person votes completely differently than all the other judges, that is a bad sign.  If the judges have no qualifications and/or experience in the areas being scored, that is quite bad.  A panel of judges who are from the school (or particular participants/schools) or somehow associated with it reduces the value and credibility of the results, just as judges from other schools which participated may also damage the value and credibility.  For the best results, all judges should have no affiliation with neither the hosts of the competition nor the participants, should possess expertise and experience in all of the areas being  tested, and the panel of judges should consist at least 3 experts.  In addition, no one judge, or member of the contest’s committee, should be given the right of making the final decision, much less being able to overturn the majority vote – resolution should be achieved through discussion and agreement.  Although judges may be honest, they are often swayed by personal feelings for their own students.

>>>Lomba apapun yang ingin dilihat terpercaya harus ada juri dengan beberapa anggota ketika harus ada penilaian langsung.   Satu juri jelek, walaupun orang itu ahli dari luar sekolahnya; dua juri sering standart tapi dapat bermasalah; kalau ada 3 atau lebih, itu dapat menghasilkan nilai yang seimbang, terutama  kalau mereka semua ahli dalam bidang yang dinilai.   Apabila setiap juri adalah ahli dalam satu dari beberapa bidang yang dinilai,  berarti hasilnya kurang berharga.  Apabila ada satu juri dengan hak pemutusan terakhir, dan orang itu memilih jauh berbeda dari semua juri lain, itu tanda buruk.  Kalau ada anggota jurinya yang tidak punya ijazah dan/atau pengalaman sesuai dengan bidang yang  dinilai,  itu buruk.  Apabila semua juri dari sekolahnya atau punya ikatan apapun dengan sekolah atau peserta,  itu membuat hasilnya kurang terpercaya, apalagi kalau ada juri dari sekolah lain yang diwakili peserta.  Untuk hasil terbaik, semua anggota juri tidak punya ikatan apapun dengan pengada lomba dan pesertanya, punya kemampuan dan pengalaman dalam semua bidang yang dinilai, dan minimal ada 3 anggota juri.   Di tambah dengan, tidak ada juri, ataupun anggota dari komite lomba, yang punya hak pemutusan terakhir, ataupun hak untuk menolak suara kebanyakan juri – hasilnya harus didapatkan melalui diskusi dan dengan persetujuan semua yang berhak memutuskan pemenang2nya.  Walaupun jurinya jujur, mereka seringkali terpengaruhi oleh perasaan pribadi mengenai murid2nya sendiri.

 

For example, there have been several occasions where I was a judge of a competition involving English, yet the other judges did not have the requisite competency in English to accurately score the participants.  This forced me to pay more attention to their English and less to the other areas being scored and, in a couple of contests, I had to completely ignore everything else.

>>>Contohnya, banyak kali saya menjadi juri lomba bahasa Inggris, namun ada juri lain yang tidak cukup mahir dalam bahasa Inggris sampai nilai2 dari mereka akan kurang benar.  Secara terpaksa, saya harus lebih fokus ke bahasa Inggris setiap peserta daripada kemampuan2 lain dan,  dalam beberapa lomba, saya harus mengabaikan kemampuan2 lain agar dapat menilai bahasanya dengan baik.

 

#3.4: Judge Affiliations / Afiliasi Juri

Source: all;   Difficulty: hard;   Value: high
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan:  tinggi;   Nilai: tinggi

Were the judges people from the school, associated with it somehow, or completely independent  of it?  Were they associated with other schools that participated?

>>>Apakah ada juri yang dari sekolah itu, ada ikatan dengan sekolahnya (seperti sponsor, mitra, sekolah dari satu grup, atau apakah tidak ada ikatan sama sekali?  Apakah ada juri yang punya ikatan dengan sekolah lain yang diwakili peserta?

 

Any time judges are members of the host – even if they are very fair and neutral – this opens the door for people to question the results that favor participants from the host school or those of schools affiliated with them.  Ideally, all judges should be selected from external sources that have no connection to the contest host, and should not be affiliated with schools that are represented by contestants, either.  If the host is unable to find external  experts, it should be made public knowledge that the judge(s) has an affiliation and was chosen solely because there were no alternatives.  In addition, the host should be prepared to be criticized, especially post-contest, and respond fairly and transparently.

>>>Kapanpun juri dari yang mengadakan lombanya – walaupun mereka adil dan netral – ini akan membuat orang berspekulasi dan ragu2 akan hasil apabila ada murid dari sekolah yang mengadakannya, ataupun dari yang terafiliasi dengannya.  Secara ideal, semua juri dipilih dari sumber2 luar yang tidak ada ikatan apapun dengan tuan rumah lombanya, bahkan termasuk sekolah yang diwakili muridnya.  Jika tuan rumahnya tidak berhasil menemukan ahli dari luar, itu harus diumumkan bahwa anggota juri tersebut ada afiliasi dan terpilih hanya karena tidak ada alternatif.  Ditambah dengan,  tuan rumah lombanya  harus siap menerima kritik, terutama pasca-lomba, dan balas dengan adil dan transparan.

 

#3.5: Post-Competition Access to Materials and Results; Right of Query /Pasca-Lomba : Hak Melihat Materi dan Hasil ; Hak Tanya

Source: all;   Difficulty: medium;   Value: medium
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: sedang;   Nilai: sedang

Post-competition, were the written materials and test results available for perusal by the public and experts?  Did they have the right to ask questions about the results and materials?

>>>Pasca-lomba, apakah materi2 tertulis dan hasil ujian2 tersedia untuk diperiksa oleh masyarakat umum maupun ahli?  Apakah mereka berhak mempertanyakan hasil2 dan materi2?

 

If the materials and test results are not made available  for review by the public, this may indicate that the school feels there are  matters of proprietary materials that they don’t want stolen but, most likely, this indicates that there is a matter of honor of someone who made errors or something is possibly even wrong – perhaps even criminally.  If the public cannot receive answers to reasonable questions and criticisms about the materials, and especially the results, this may mean a lack of flexibility, transparency or willingness to be criticized, but it may also indicate that something is wrong, especially if it is clear that there are significant problems with the materials and/or results.

>>>Apabila materi2 dan hasilnya tidak dapat dilihat oleh orang umum, ini mungkinlah mengindikasikan bahwa sekolahnya merasa ada masalah bahan materi yang rahasia sekolahnya yang tidak diinginkan dicuri namun, lebih mungkin lagi, inilah masalah kehormatan orang yang salah atau mungkin ada semacam kesalahan – bahkan mungkin ada tindakan kriminal.  Jika masyarakat umum tidak boleh mendapatkan jawaban untuk pertanyaan dan kritik mereka tentang materi2, dan terutama hasilnya, ini mungkin masalah kekakuan, ketransparanan ataupun ketidakrelaan dikritik, tapi ini mungkin juga menunjukkan bahwa ada yang tidak beres, terutama kalau sudah jelas bahwa ada masalah2 yang cukup besar dengan materi2 dan/atau hasilnya.

 

#3.6:  Access to Deliberation Process / Hak Melihat Proses Pemutusan Pemenang

Source: all;   Difficulty: easy to hard;   Value: medium
Sumber: semua;   Kesulitan: rendah sampai tinggi;   Nilai: sedang

Were people allowed to find out how the host/judges decided upon winners, or is the process secret?

>>>Apakah orang2 boleh mencaritahu tata cara pengada/juri memutuskan para pemenang, ataukah itu proses rahasia?
If the process and deliberations used to determine who won a contest are kept a secret, it is likely that something is wrong.  The hiding of these things may indicate a lack of professionalism, incompetence, errors, favoritism or fixed results (cheating).
Apabila proses dan alasan dibalik pemutusan pemenangnya dirahasiakan, kemungkinan besar ada yang tidak beres.  Menyembunyikan hal2 ini mungkin menunjukkan bahwa ada ketidakprofesionalismean, ketidakmampuan, kesalahan, kesayangan ataupun kecurangan.

 

#3.7: Overall Number of Competitions per Year / Jumlah Lomba per Tahun

Source: government, library, media, NGOs;   Difficulty: medium to hard;   Value: medium
Sumber: pemerintahan, perpustakaan, media, NGO;  Kesulitan: sedang sampai tinggi;   Nilai: sedang

How many competitions were held in each year, including the ones which that school has no awards for?

>>>Berapa banyak lomba diadakan setiap tahun, termasuk lomba2 dimana sekolah yang kamu menilai tidak mendapatkan satupun?

 

This is more difficult to find data for.  The school may not have a complete record of all contests held in the region, and it may require going to a few different places, such as the local department of education,  the teachers’ union, etc., to try and get complete data.  It may be that no one kept track of everything.   The ratio of competitions held to competitions entered, as well as the ratio of competitions held to the ones where awards were earned, are both useful.  In combination with other factors, the former indicates things like student readiness and confidence, and the latter shows ability.

>>>Menemukan informasi tentang ini akan lebih sulit.  Mungkin sekolahnya punya informasi yang lengkap tentang semua lomba di daerahmu, tapi lebih mungkin tidak, jadi kamu mungkin harus ke DepDikNas, Persatuan Guru, dll., untuk mendapatkan informasi yang lengkap.  Ada juga kemungkinan tidak ada instansi satupun yang punya informasi yang lengkap.  Rasio lomba yang diberadakan dibandingkan lomba dimana murid sekolah bersaing (LAMB), bahkan rasio lomba yang diberadakan dibandingkan lomba dimana murid sekolah menang (LAMM), dapat menunjukkan mutu sekolahnya.  Dengan faktor2 lain, rasio LAMB menunjukkan kepersiapan murid2 dan kePDannya, dan LAMM menunjukkan kemampuannya.

 

#3.8: Total Number of Participants per Contest / Jumlah Peserta per Lomba

Source: award giver, government, NGOs, media, library;   Difficulty: easy;  Value: low
Sumber: pemberi penghargaan, pemerintahan, NGO, media, perpustakaan;   Kesulitan: mudah;    Nilai: rendah

How many individuals and/or teams from other schools participated?

>>>Ada berapa peserta dan/atau tim dari sekolah2 lain?

 

A contest with individuals from no other schools holds less value than one in which just a few others schools were involved, which is less valuable than a contest in which many schools participated.  Sometimes, however, this may indicate that the contest wasn’t well-publicized, or that it didn’t have governmental support, resulting in less participation.

>>>Sebuah lomba internal saja kurang berharga dibandingkan lomba dengan ada peserta2 dari sedikit sekolah lain, dan itupun kurang berharga dibandingkan lomba dengan ada peserta2 dari banyak sekolah lain.  Namun  terkadang, ini dapat menunjukkan bahwa lombanya tidak pasarkan dengan bagus, atau lombanya tidak ada dukungan dari pemerintahan setempat, dengan akibat kekurangan peserta.

I hope that this information helps you in evaluating  schools.  If you think of anything else that will be of use to parents, please let me know.  I have drawn on my experience as an educator, judge and competition committee member to prepare this information.  Please note that I use words like “may”, “maybe” and similar words deliberately to indicate a degree of possibility.  In life, very little is 100% certain, and that includes what I have stated above.

>>>Saya berharap informasi ini berguna dalam hal mengevaluasikan sekolah2.  Apabila  kamu ada tambahan2 yang berguna buat para orang tua, tolong bagi informasinya dengan saya.  Saya telah memakai pengalamanku sebagai seorang pendidik, juri dan anggota panitia lomba untuk menyiapkan informasi ini.  Tolong perhatikan bahwa saya memakai kata2 seperti “mungkin” dan kata2 serupanya untuk memberi petunjuk tentang derajat kemungkinan.  Dalam hidup, ada sedikit yang 100% pasti, dan itu termasuk apa yang saya sudah tulis.

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Evaluating Schools: False Leads and Secondary Factors

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One of the most common mistakes that parents make when they choose a school for their child is to look at certain factors that are poor indicators of the quality of the school, such as the school’s popularity and fame, whose children go there, the opinions of friends and family, the opinions of students, national test results, whether rich parents send their children there, the possibility of improved status or prestige, the school’s facilities, an educational style that looks familiar, the extracurricular and/or co-curricular programs, and the school’s appearance.  While these factors may sometimes give an indication of the quality of the school, in general, their value ranges from almost non-existent to secondary considerations.   Please read my separate article about trophies and other awards.
A School’s Popularity and Fame
Popularity and fame are subjective perceptions that are easily manipulated through marketing strategies, the selective entry into contests that their students are sure to win, the display of trophies and other awards, making the school grounds look attractive, offering special programs and other tactics that are psychologically impressive but are generally nothing more than glitter in terms of evaluating quality.  Unless the school has significant attributes, such as a track record of years of students who have moved on to success in life; a reputation for students becoming very civic-minded; above average results even when using non-standard evaluation techniques through independent sources and even while accepting  students from a wide range of backgrounds and performance records; a curriculum that has been demonstrated through years of use at various schools  to get better-than-average results; a roster of teachers who have received accolades; etc., one should be wary of whether the popularity and/or fame of a school is just a passing trend or the result of clever marketing.
Whose Children Go There, Rich Parents Send Their Kids There, Status and Prestige
While it is certainly true that some schools are full of students from the upper class (such as Ivy League universities) and successful, most of the time deciding to enroll your child in a particular school because someone’s child is there is a mistake.  Certainly, if the person in question is someone who is a famous, highly regarded leader in the reformation of education who is respected even by his or her adversaries, that might be an exception to the rule.
Similarly, choosing a school because it might make you look better is self-serving and egotistical and, while it may work as a strategy for you, it may be a disaster for your child.  You may accidentally put your child in a bad school, a bad situation, or drastically alter their future.
If, however, you’re on a quest for improved status (reputation by association), then you are not concerned with your child’s future, nor are you making a wise choice.  Education is not about what is best for you as the parent, but what is best for your child.  Put your child’s needs first, and make an informed decision based on real facts.
If you send your child to a school that is famous (like Ivy League universities), please be aware that while it will provide an excellent education in many respects, there are pitfalls, especially if you are not wealthy.
Opinions
We often like to ask the people around us what they think about a particular school, or which school they think is best.   Yet, most of these people have never researched the schools in the area, let alone the city, and many know very little about education or how to choose a good school.  Asking the average person for advice on which school to go to, while it may yield some information that you can use in your search, will rarely lead you to the best choice.  It’s like asking a grocer to perform surgery on you – the chances are very low that it’ll go well.
Students are, on average, only good for a very limited variety of information unless you ask them questions but, if you ask the right questions, they can be a goldmine of information!   The value of a student’s answers will generally be greater the older the person is.  Usually, if you ask a child if they like their school, they base their answer on how many friends they have and, thus, how happy they are there.  You’ll have to dig deeper with questions like:
“What do you think about your teachers?”
“Are they fair, honest and respectful?”
“Do they make learning interesting, enjoyable and challenging?”
“Do they help you when you have trouble?”
“Do they make students feel uncomfortable, embarrass them or bully them?”

“When they observe someone bullying, do they have effective methods to defuse the situation, perhaps even permanently?”
“How safe do you feel in your school?”
Here’s an interesting “climate” (which means the social and emotional relationship environment) survey you might want to make use of when talking to a student: http://www.schoolclimatesurvey.com/files/Student_ASC_Survey_2006_Version_2.1.5.pdf

 

If you DO want to ask the average person, then you should go loaded with questions that will help you evaluate how much value their opinion has.  Of course, in order to be able to understand the value of the answers to some of these questions, you’d have to actually learn about education.  Here’s a very short list.
How many schools have you evaluated?
How many of them did you visit?
What kind of curriculum does each us?
What teaching methodologies are employed, and which is/are preferred?
What subjects are offered and are they all required, or can students guide their own future by choosing?
What guidance does the school offer to students so that they make wise decisions for their future?
What is the school’s strategy for testing and grading?
How does the school evaluate teachers?
Do teachers work as a members of a team and have routine sessions in which they sit  down and share their problems and offer solutions?

 

Climate surveys for different people (eg: students, teachers, administrators, staff, community members) are available online if you search for “school climate survey”, such as here: http://www.tacoma.k12.wa.us/Schools/Pages/Climate-Surveys.aspx which offers surveys online for parents, staff and primary, junior and senior high students.
Test Results
First of all, it is obvious that if there are 20 schools that are reviewed and evaluate, and all 20 schools receive fairly poor scores, the best of the 20 is still poor.  With a consistent “benchmark”, tests hold little meaning outside the environment within which they are used.

 

Second, many countries have problems with cheating on tests, not just by the teachers and their students but also by administrators and even testing companies.  There are numerous reasons for this, including government funding that is determined based on test results; administrator’s fear of loss of funding, sanctions, loss of status, and embarrassment; teacher’s fear of reprisals by administrators or the impact the results will have on their  position and/or salary; teacher’s fear of embarrassment and loss of status; student’s fear of loss of opportunities in societies that still over-estimate the value of test results; parents fear of loss of status, embarrassment, missed opportunities; and many other possible reasons.  In some countries, tests are the key to university, being able to study overseas, scholarships, funding and many other things and, thus, the stakes are big.  Sometimes, entire schools will cheat so that it looks like no one has failed because of these reasons, or even because passing the national exams is a requisite for graduation.  Even politicians have been involved in such corruption.

 

Third, many tests are geared toward testing knowledge, not ability, and thus are not only bad indicators of school quality, but also the chances of success of any given student.  Testing knowledge is a poor way of getting results that have more meaning for parents, teachers, students, administrators and the government.

 

Fourth, if a test is poorly designed; it is much more difficult or easier than the actual curriculum, the quality of the teachers is poor; or there is some other disparity between the test and the actual learning experience, then the validity of the test’s results is highly suspect.

 

Fifth, the formatting of questions and answers can affect the student’s ability to answer, making it easier or more difficult to answer, thus skewing the results for an individual, a grade level, a school, a city or even an entire country.  Therefore, if all schools do not use exactly the same format and questions, then the results of the test have far less value than is needed.  A poor-quality school that uses the easiest types of questions (such as multiple-choice, cloze with a word box, and matching) will appear to be competitive when compared to a high-quality school that designs tests that minimize the use of easy question types.  Conversely, an underachieving school with honest leadership may choose to use hard question types which may shine a light on the problems there, but which may be looked at the wrong way.

 

Sixth, how tests are graded can skew the results.  For example, if a test is graded on the so-called “bell curve”, other schools that use a different curve,  that don’t use a curve at all, or that revise scores based on non-test criteria can manipulate their results.

 

Seventh, how the results are collated and what statistical evaluations are used (including biases) can change the perception of the results.  It is well known that the manipulation of statistical analysis results can produce results that give a false impression of the facts.

 

Eighth, for a variety of reasons, including learning disabilities, test stress and other mental and emotional issues, some students are unable to perform well on tests.  They may do very well in all other aspects of schooling, but when it comes to tests, their results are startlingly bad.

 

There are other reasons as well, but I think this makes it clear enough.  While test results may give some kind of indication of quality, if you have no way to evaluate their value, then it is unlikely that they will be of significant use for you.

 

Finally, does the school do formative post-test assessments to identify problems with the test as well as areas students need more help with?

 

Not all testing is bad.  Tests that are designed to evaluate comprehension and abilities rather than just information (especially trivia) can be very valuable in terms of assessing students.  On the other hand, if you see that a test is mostly focused on checking knowledge acquisition, then that test’s value is far weaker than a test or activity that checks the ability to apply knowledge correctly.

 

Not all forms of evaluation involve testing, such as observation and evaluation during classroom activities and projects, evaluation of homework, and evaluation of participation (what kinds, how often, depth of involvement, etc.).  A test that uses a lot of multiple choice questions (A,B,C,D) is easier to pass than a test that uses a variety of question types with a greater range of possibility (e.g.: fill in the blank with a box of many choices or no box at all, open-ended questions requiring a sentence be written, short essays).  “Near miss” answers can be used to determine comprehension in that such answers will appear to be correct, and may be, but are not the most correct choice for the test question.  This is actually a better way to provide answer choices than choices that are obviously incorrect, because it requires that the student be able to choose the answer based on deductive or inductive logic, and this is more difficult if all the answers are valid than if some answers can be immediately eliminated as wrong.

 

If a post-test evaluation is done to find problems with the test so that future tests will be better, this is an important step to ensure quality results for students, parents AND teachers, as well as being a tool to help teachers better assist their students.

 

While testing has a place in education, and although they may indicate success in education itself, high scores are not usually a strong indicator of success in life.  You should look at a test score but you should also look at the test critically to see what it is actually designed to evaluate.  Even if you cannot determine how high the quality of the test is, if you see that it is focused on testing abilities instead of just information, that it offers a variety of question types, of which there are few that are closed-ended (multiple-choice A,B,C,D; True/False; Yes/No; Right/Wrong; Fill-in-the-blank with a limited number of choices), and many that are open-ended (questions for which the ability to answer is not limited, such as “Why…?” and “How…?”), then you can have a basic understanding of the test’s worth.

 

Please note that the younger your child, the more closed-ended, information-check questions there will be.  However, even in lower primary, you should see some open-ended questions about comprehension and ability, especially in a subject like Mathematics.

 

I realize that you may now feel that your ability to know about your child’s progress is limited.  There are, however, questions you can ask your child’s teachers to help you get a better understanding of your child.  Ask questions about strengths and weaknesses, behavior, the ability to socialize,  maturely handle emotions, his/her level of creativity, problem-solving, analysis, how well your child performs during daily classroom activities, which subjects your child seems to do particularly well at and which still need to be improved, etc.  Through questioning, you will learn far more about your child than a report card can show.
Facilities and Appearance
Actually, facilities are probably one of the best of the worst things to look at, but don’t allow them to be the primary consideration because other factors (such as seen in the questions in the opinions section) are far more important.

 

From the bathrooms and the availability of soap, sprayers and toilet paper within them (and, if people wipe with their hands, soap should be in each stall, not just at the sink), lots of garbage cans, student lockers, and security measures to prevent theft, abduction, attacks, molestation, etc. to premium facilities like a swimming pool, fine arts room, outdoor activity area, indoor gym, performing arts room, choir/band room, stadium/sports field, track, fitness center, nurse’s office, guidance counselor, psychologist, special education experts, archery range, computer/AV lab, stage and auditorium, and science lab, these things should all be taken into consideration as part of the overall package, especially if they are needed for the path your child wants to follow later in life.

 

Nevertheless, lack of these things should only be a secondary factor, although those related to hygiene (be sure to investigate the bathrooms, cafeteria and kitchen!) are very important.

 

Some schools spend a great deal of attention on appearance.  There are two types of appearance – those that please the eyes of parents, and those that are purpose-driven to assist in the learning process.  Certainly, schools should be colorfully painted instead of looking like re-purposed prisons, and have interesting decorations to look at, because art is an important part of education.  However, if you are walking down the halls and looking into classrooms, you should see purpose-driven decoration or, more accurately, displays that support current and recent lessons by displaying material about the lessons, and/or those created by the students.  Cheerful and inspiring displays of students’ work should be evident around the school, even in the lobby (but not only there or it is just for the benefit of parents).  Be careful to try to discern whether it is a marketing strategy or for the benefit of the students.  Note dates on materials – displays should be changed fairly often so as to always be relevant and give students motivation to do well so as to have their work displayed.  It is not the most beautiful work that should always be displayed because not everyone is able to produce beautiful work.
A Familiar Educational Style
Often parents expect that the style of teaching that is used at a school should be similar to the schooling they received.  They believe that what worked for them is the best choice because they were able to do well with it.  Most likely, unless you went to a school that employed a progressive or transformational methodology, this is not true.  Aside from the fact that each person is different, even from their parents, and thus has different needs, the traditional system of public education was not designed to help students to excel – it was helped to create workers.  It is, for some people, highly appropriate but, anyone who looks at a statistical analysis of the results over the last 200 years can clearly see that less than 50% really benefit from this system.  The rest get average, or worse, results.  That means that the educational system given to the public by Europe is a failure.

 

Do not look for a school that uses the traditional, teacher-focused, student-as-recorder, one-directional, boring style of education.  Look, instead, for a school where the students are frequently engaged in learning through doing: experiments, activities, research, discovery, games, debriefing and more; it is the practical application of knowledge that most benefits the largest number of students, not the passing on of theory that is rarely practiced.  Look for a place where students  are excited to get to class instead of just play and reticent to go home, where parents are involved with the learning experience because it is so enjoyable, and where there is such a positive environment that just stepping  into the school is like entering a better world.  This may sound utopian, but this is what you should seek out if you truly care for your child and want the best.
Extracurricular/Co-curricular Programs
Extra- and co-curricular programs are a nice bonus.  They offer additional options, but they are not the same, and how valuable they are is partially dependent on what is offered.

 

Extra-curricular programs offer a free/inexpensive way for students to explore interests that may otherwise be inaccessible to them.  Some may just be a way for them to relax, while others may give them a chance to evaluate professions they may want to pursue, as well as provide a chance to acquire the necessary skills to do well in it.  While you should be sure to give your child a great deal of control over this, and you should encourage the child to try, you should also make sure that the child doesn’t waste these opportunities.

 

Co-curriculars are often not free, and I am less inclined to value them because they are also required.  Unlike extra-curriculars, your child will be forced to enroll in a certain number of co-curriculars, and you will have to produce the money to pay for it (usually).  If the options are of a particular  type only (such as focusing only on the traditional “core” areas of language, science and math), or they are of a specific bent (such as religious or play-time), then this is something to ask questions about – a co-curricular program should  offer a wide variety of options since the students have to participate instead of trying  to force them to follow  a particular path that they may not even be suited for.

 

Carefully review the program offered at the schools you’re considering and see if they align with your child’s dreams and offer a wide variety of choices – even though some of those choices may seem unimportant to you (such as performing and fine arts, sports, debate, forensics, chess club, A/V club, etc.).  Again, these are there for your child, not you.  If they don’t have anything of great interest to your child, and/or there is a lack of variety, but it is an extra-curricular program, then it’s not a big problem.  If, however, it’s a co-curricular program, then you may want to look at other schools.