I often get questions about how we measure our students, staff and schools. “How are our kids doing in Bellingham Public Schools?” “How do you determine a school’s success?”

To answer these questions, folks often go right to state test scores as the most important indicator of how successful a school is. While standardized tests do offer value, I believe much of our country is overly-focused on state test scores. Standardized assessments are only one measurement of a student, a school and a system’s success. But there is a much bigger picture.

Qualitative data (data that can be observed but not easily measured) can be as valid and informative as quantitative data (data that deals with numbers and can be measured). In Bellingham Public Schools, we look at both – they’re both important and useful. And if we focus on just one, we may find our priorities lopsided.

Our education system is set up so that quantitative data is readily available in grades, scores, etc. But how do we know, understand and measure all the ways in which our kids, staff, community and families are striving to fulfill the tenets in The Bellingham Promise, our school district’s strategic plan? It’s important that we develop graduates who are “mathematicians and scientists” as well as “dependable and responsible workers” and “innovators and creators,” etc. Not all of our tenets and outcomes are easily gauged on a standardized test.

Which is why we developed The Bellingham Promise website. It’s all about telling, sharing, enjoying and learning from stories that illustrate the many ways The Promise is alive in our schools and the many ways we can see our strategic plan in action.

The website helps tell stories of real kids. Real staff. Real community members.

We update it often and love hearing your ideas and submissions, too!