Educational excellence for everyone: a possible reality

Main idea

Educational excellence is possible in a multicultural social reality, with a high rate of newcomers, with low educational levels and associated social problems (as is the case in many districts of New York). To make it possible, we must move from a culture of conformity to one in which we want success for everyone, in which clear goals are established, in which directors and teachers exercise a leadership role and in the one that accounts for the work done Feng Shui Course 2019.

How was “traditional” education in New York

  • The educational process is based on three elements: teaching, learning and content. In “traditional” education, teaching prevails over the other elements. There is a rush to cover a curriculum and that forces the teacher to give master classes.
  • When evaluating the process, what is done is to evaluate if the contents of the curriculum have been assimilated. In schools with a great diversity of backgrounds and levels and with many students who do not speak English, not everyone will reach the curricular objectives.
  • External evaluations are normative.
  • Conclusions: Teachers and the system in general, think that not all students can reach the established levels: “You cannot ask for more”. It’s a kind of deficit education. In schools such as those managed by Roser Salavert, only 10% of students exceeded state normative tests.

Change to an education that seeks the success of everyone


Basis of change

  • The federal No Child Left behind Act (NCLB, 2001).
  • Various initiatives to move from education based on teaching to education based on learning: all students have the ability and the right to learn and can achieve standard competences.
  • Change in the management of schools. More autonomy, leadership of directors and professors, and internal and external evaluation.


Principles on which teaching based on learning is based

  • Effort is the basis of learning: «We do not give anything away».
  • Expectations are clear. The student and the family know what competencies must be reached.
  • Recognition of successes as a motivating element (for example, a class shows peers from the other levels or parents the results of a certain work that has been done).
  • Fair evaluation. You tend to do situation tests.
  • Applied intelligence. Students are expected to respond in a reasoned manner.
  • Learn by learning. Not only is it memorized, but the practice of what is learned is also of great importance.
  • Results: in the same neighborhoods of New York where before only 10% passed the normative tests, now there is a 70% of school success.


The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)

  • The law does not determine resumes. It establishes scores in each subject to which it must arrive. Each state develops its standards to achieve this score. These standards are based on competences and not on curricula.
  • The standards are established based on the study of many exemplary samples.
  • Students who do not know English are asked the same level as others, but learning is dual (in both languages).
  • Co-responsibility of families is sought with regular state reports on the progression of students.
  • If the center has not reached the objectives, it offers the possibility for families to change centers.
  • The law has been transferred to the classroom in the form of strategies to achieve success. Example: weekly tutorials of 45 minutes are carried out in which the professors talk with the students of non-academic questions to try to solve emotional problems. The center director also conducts this tutoring and dedicates it to the most difficult students.


Change in school management (leadership + autonomy + performance evaluation)

  • Until 2002, school management and innovation ideas went from the district office to the schools. Success was limited because it was far from the action, the concrete and individual reality of each center.
  • Since 2002, there is autonomy in management and a high degree of responsibility in schools.
  • The director is no longer a leading teacher, he is now a leading manager who manages the budget and develops a strategic center plan. Evaluate the teaching staff at the end of the year, you must report to the CEO about whether you have achieved the objectives established in this strategic plan.
  • Tools are given so that the director feels supported enough to assume this high degree of responsibility. We work in a network with other directors and with the center’s teaching staff.
  • Great value is given to the training of teachers, who must devote part of their time to training and innovating within the same center. In a first stage each school had to have an innovation team (studied one of the most serious problems of the school and provided possible short-term solutions, which were applied on a day-to-day basis and which, if valid, became generalized) . Now it is requested that all the teachers of the center are involved in some innovation team.
  • All the work carried out at the end of the year must be accounted for. Surveys are made to teachers, families and students. There is also an external evaluation. The progress data is public and is posted on the internet.



It has gone from a culture of conformity to one of sustained excellence, from a culture in which the teacher acts individually to one of strategic collaboration and distributive leadership, from a culture of uniformity to a culture of differentiation. Evaluation is not the objective, but a tool to achieve excellence.