- Environmental Policy
- A Vision
- The Academic Program
- Outcome-Based Education
- QSI Education Model Summary
- The QSI Philosophy and Objectives
Environmental Protection Policy
[This policy was written in 1977 and is outdated by the phrase ‘within the century’. However, with only minor revisions, it is being left as it was to illustrate the foresight of this policy written over a quarter century ago.]
As part of the instructional program of Sanaa International School, particularly in cultural studies, physical education, and science, emphasis are placed on environmental studies with a view to the concerns of pollution, overpopulation, waste of natural resources, health, etc. It is felt that the pressure of the environmental crisis worldwide makes it imperative that our children have a working understanding of the problems they will face as adult citizens. The following is a summary of the problems that relate to the school’s objectives concerning environmental protection.
- Overpopulation: Students should be made aware of the facts concerning excessive population growth. They should know that unless the explosive world population growth is slowed or stopped altogether, the quality of life will be seriously reduced due to shortage of food and supplies, shortage of space, and unstable political and social institutions.
- Pollution: Problems of the pollution of the environment caused by uncontrolled economic and technological growth should be brought to the attention of the students. The ecological balance of clean air, water, and land should be seen and studied in terms of a student’s own relationship to it. Students should be encouraged to avoid littering at school, home, city, and countryside.
- Resources: An exponential use of the earth’s limited resources by the industrially developed nations is a problem in which each of us participates. Unless our growth-at-all-costs consumer value system is changed to a system of responsible development, man shall not survive his own greed. Students should learn the economics of over-consumption and how to make personal decisions in this area which will positively affect the world’s environment.
- Protection of Wildlife and Natural Areas: Students should know that certain animals are now extinct, that there is a growing number of endangered species, and that if strict protection measures are not taken, much of the earth’s wildlife will have vanished from the earth within the century. They should know, too, that preservation of wildlife means the protection of vast stretches of earth’s forests, seas, lakes, swamps, savannas, and deserts.
- Health: Exercise, proper diet, and avoidance of harmful drugs should be encouraged. Students should have facts on the harmful effects of overeating, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages, use of tobacco, and use of other harmful drugs. An organized program of exercise is part of the physical education program. Individual sports in which one can participate after youth should be taught as well as major team sports.
There is considerable controversy in the USA and many other parts of the world over the quality of education at the elementary and secondary levels. This relates not only to the quality and quantity of learning, but also to values, behaviors, and attitudes, sometimes referred to as ‘success orientations’. If schools were under the management of caring dedicated school leaders that have an interest in providing schools with wholesome environments leading to the encouragement of traditional values, both of the concerns could be minimized.
There is an almost unlimited number of opportunities around the world to organize ‘international’ schools to serve the expatriate communities of diplomats, development personnel, businessmen, United Nations personnel, etc. These schools can provide a quality education and create opportunities for encouraging the kinds of behavior that stem from traditional values. Some possibilities are:
- Caring administrators and teachers provide a wholesome atmosphere and desirable models for the students.
- The school family can provide a positive presence in a country that encourages healthy behaviors based upon “Do to others as you want others to do to you”.
- In some countries a school of this kind can provide a moral and practical support group to others in the community that are working for the good of the country, such as supporting orphanages, environmental projects, and other efforts to improve a society.
Experience has shown that parents of many different persuasions, nationalities, and value systems appreciate a school which provides quality education and a wholesome atmosphere for their children. As a secular school, religious instruction or propagation is not part of the school’s curriculum or activities.
In providing a quality education these schools employ an outcome-based model of education. This is based on a belief that all students can experience success in their learning (including problem solving and other higher order thinking skills) and that a success cycle can be developed, if the school takes responsibilities which make this success possible. One key factor is ensuring that students have the necessary prerequisites for success by individualizing placement in instructional levels. If a student puts forth a reasonable effort he must be able to succeed and be rewarded for the success. Also, instead of using time as a boundary condition to determine when learning begins and ends (as in most schools, which are time-based or calendar-based), time is used as a resource. Teachers and students work together with the goal of each learner reaching a high level of mastery in clearly defined unit outcomes, without regard to time constraints. This responds to the fact that some students take a longer time to learn than others, even though the final quality of the learning may be about the same. Thus education becomes equitable, all can learn, some can learn more quickly and attain greater accomplishments in a given time, some who struggle with learning now experience success by being given the time needed, and all are encouraged to develop success orientations with a view to success in advanced education, employment, and life in general.
Today there are unprecedented opportunities as boundaries in the former Russian sphere of influence have changed, new countries emerge, and new systems of governments welcome development which leads to a need for international schools for the families of the participants. The vision of QSI is to continue to take action to establish schools where there are opportunities.
To summarize, this ‘vision’ projects a growing number of international schools in various parts of the world serving as beacons of wholesome environments and excellence in education. Hopefully, a reputation will continue to be earned which leads expatriate communities in other places to invite this organization to form schools in their cities.
Quality Schools International has a strong belief that all students can succeed.
QSI departs from traditional schools in that it is not as much concerned about “time” being the “defining” factor of student learning. In most schools, students are given a certain amount of time to complete learning in a subject, and then students are assessed on their performance. In QSI, time is used as a resource, so the outcomes that are designed to develop students into well-educated and well-adjusted individuals are thoroughly mastered.
In the QSI model of learning, a student either masters the outcomes in each area, or the student is simply not finished. When a student achieves mastery level, he/she is immediately rewarded by receiving credit for the outcome. Therefore, QSI applies only mastery grades of “A” or “B,” or “P” (still in Progress). QSI recognizes that not everyone will master outcomes at the same rate. Many will be able to finish an outcome rather quickly–they will be allowed to work on a selective outcome and gain credit for doing so. Others will take longer to achieve mastery level—and they will be provided the time necessary to do so. In other words, students have more than one chance to be successful. The learned outcomes needed at mastery level are clearly defined and clearly stated. No trick questions! QSI believes in “teaching what we test, and testing what we teach”.
Quality Schools International has designed Exit Outcomes that are the basis of the entire curriculum. These Exit Outcomes fall into three categories: Success Orientations, Competencies, and Knowledge. Although these categories are related, and are in many ways interdependent, the following three verbs give definition to the Exit Outcomes:
- ‘to believe’ Success Orientations
- ‘to do’ Competencies
- ‘to know’ Knowledge
It is important to learn more than the “academics.” QSI feels it is equally important that the often hidden part of the curriculum, what QSI calls Success Orientations, be a vital part of the entire QSI school experience.
Success for All is the motto of Quality Schools International. This is more than just a slogan. Research indicates, and our experience confirms, that successful people have developed personal orientations that lead to success. Personal habits, the ability to interact successfully with others, reliability, responsibility, diligent work habits, promptness, keeping your word, kindness, and other factors in this realm are at least as important as the knowledge one learns and the competencies one gains. Success in these orientations rests first and foremost in the home; however, the success orientations are actively encouraged and taught in virtually all areas of the QSI school curriculum with the view of making them a vital part of one’s life pattern. The role of QSI is to reinforce these efforts of the home.
Success Orientation behaviors are evaluated independently from academic assessments. Academic assessments are given solely on the basis of your performance in the specified outcomes. Evaluations of the success orientations are based on situations within the jurisdiction of the school, and they are awarded through a consensus by the professional staff members. The seven Success Orientations are:
- Group Interaction
- Aesthetic Appreciation
- Kindness / Politeness
- Independent Endeavor
- Concern for Others
Success in these orientations leads to success in life!
In recent times, there has been a tremendous information explosion of scientific and technological advances. It becomes increasingly important one develops competencies that provide the tools to cope with the present age. To become productive participants in modern society, one needs skills related to these advances.
Particularly important are higher order thinking skills. Skills related to the arts and physical fitness are important toward a view to beauty and quality of life.
Quality Schools International considers mastery in each of the seven competencies listed below essential to personal success in life.
- Numeracy and Mathematical Skills
- Verbal and Written Communication Skills
- Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
- Decision-Making and Judgment Skills
- Commercial Skills
- Psychomotor Skills
- Fine Arts Skills
In the modern world there has been a vast and continuous increase in knowledge. It is impossible to know everything. One has to carefully choose the things considered essential for a person educated in modern society. QSI believes it is better to engage in the study of less information and gain mastery rather than cover large amounts of information superficially without mastery.
In order to develop competencies, one must have a firm foundation of facts and knowledge. Certain facts must be memorized and used as tools in gaining additional knowledge and in developing competencies. Additional knowledge is gained by building upon and combining fundamental facts and bits of knowledge. This happens by hearing, seeing, and experiencing in learning situations, followed by practice and repeated exposure. Some of the ways this happens are through dialogue, questioning, experimentation, risk-taking, and group activities.
In the realm of knowledge, QSI has identified seven areas. Mastery of these Exit Outcomes will lead to a successful school experience in Quality Schools International.
- English / Literature
- Cultural Studies
- Creative and Applied Arts
- Languages Other Than English
- Personal Health and World Environmental Issues
Quality Schools International has adopted the OUTCOME-BASED EDUCATIONAL MODEL for its school organization and operation. As such, parts of the Organizational Philosophy/Mission/Beliefs/Objectives are not subject to revision. However, the Organizational Philosophy/Mission/Beliefs/Objectives are reviewed and discussed on a regular basis. The following article written by William Spady, Nikola Filby, and Robert Burns is a description of the system under which QSI operates.
OUTCOME-BASED EDUCATION: A SUMMARY OF ESSENTIAL FEATURES AND MAJOR IMPLICATIONS
Outcome-Based Education (OBE) represents a clearly focused and powerful way of organizing and operating instructional systems. Its purpose, philosophy, and program components all support the notion that educational systems should be defined according to the outcomes they are expected to help students accomplish, and they should be organized so that decision-making at all levels of the system focuses on those outcomes – rather than on other secondary considerations. This fundamental principle applies to all aspects of a state’s, district’s, school’s, or teacher’s programs.
Understanding OBE requires understanding that in the prevailing model of educational practice, the calendar is the basic definer of the organizational structure of schools and the many key features of their instructional programs. These structural features and program elements are built around uniform blocks of time known as school years and semesters. These time blocks determine the nature and awarding of credits (measured as hours of seat time), the basis for promotion and graduation (requiring the accumulation of calendar-based credits), the structuring of the curriculum (into uniform time blocks called “grade levels” and “courses” into which content and learning experiences must fit), the grouping and assignment of students (based on age), the organization and delivery of instruction (which routinely begins and ends at only one time in the calendar year), the timing of formal evaluations and tests (which brings an end to instructional opportunities), and the kinds of records and reports of student achievement sent to parents, colleges, and prospective employers.
By focusing on definitive outcomes as the basis for curriculum design, standard setting, program organization, teaching, testing, grading, student grouping, and promotion credit, graduation and program evaluation, OBE schools depart significantly from this pattern of deeply ingrained educational practice which has allowed the clock, schedule, and calendar – not student outcomes – to determine how, when, and why decisions are made and things are done. Grasping the importance of this shift in emphasis and procedure is one key to understanding the real meaning of OBE and the powerful effects which well-developed OBE practices have on the learning success of all students.
However, OBE does not require that one throw away the calendar, schedule, or clock in order to operate within the letter and spirit of the model. Rather, it encourages a shift in orientation about time and decision making – a shift that places more emphasis on time as a resource to be organized and managed to the best advantage of student learning and success, and less emphasis on the calendar as the basis of instructional arrangements and decisions. By organizing all important program features around the outcomes we want students to demonstrate as the result of their educational experiences, OBE de-emphasizes time as a definer of programs and emphasizes how time can be used as a resource that can be organized and managed flexibly to assure student success on those essential outcomes. This shift in decision-making, from time-based to outcome-based is the foundation for understanding the purpose of OBE.
The QSI educational program has progressed from the philosophy brought by the first teachers of Sanaa International School in 1971 to a structured performance-based model first implemented in the fall of 1987 in the secondary section of that school. By the autumn of 1989, the entire school was performance-based. Formal accreditation was granted by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools on 24 April 1987.
A SUMMARY OF THE EDUCATIONAL MODEL IMPLEMENTED BY QUALITY SCHOOLS INTERNATIONAL
The schools of Quality Schools International (QSI) use a model of education based upon student performance. An outline of the implementation in these schools follows:
This success oriented model has three foundational beliefs:
- QSI believes that all students can experience success in their learning including higher order thinking skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.
- QSI believes that success breeds success.
- QSI believes that it is the school’s responsibility to provide the conditions for success.
This success oriented way of operating a school leads to optimum learning and to happy and motivated students. Using knowledge of educational research, these schools are student performance-based rather than ‘time-based’ or ‘calendar-based’. Teachers and students in QSI schools use time as a resource to reach mastery of clearly-defined objectives (unit outcomes) rather than using time as a boundary condition to determine when learning begins and ends. Our teachers are expected to employ instructional practices of excellence, however the measure of success is not how well the teacher teaches, but how well the students learn.
The implications of QSI’s three foundational beliefs
All students can experience success in their learning.
QSI defines academic success as performing at a minimal level that would traditionally earn a “B” grade. The system for evaluation is mastery at an “A” or “B” level, or a “P” which means the student is still in progress toward mastery in a particular unit.
There is a relationship for any student between the time spent on learning and practicing, and that student’s level of performance. Rather than employing an extensive grading system, such as A, B, C, D, E, or 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. to record varying performance levels, QSI believes that the amount of time each student spends on a unit of study can vary considerably as each works toward achieving an “A” or “B” mastery.
The QSI curriculum identifies core units that make up courses. (In most courses there are ten (10) units in a year’s course.) It is expected that most students will achieve mastery in these core units within the school year. Higher performing students may master not only the core units, but selective units as well. This is shown on the status reports. Some students will need to take advantage of the many opportunities provided for students to utilize extra time to master the units.
Some examples of ways for a student to find extra time to work on a unit include:
- Using time from another course in which that student is performing well and therefore does not need the full class time to master units. (i.e. a student who is doing well in a reading unit may take some of that time to work on challenges they have encountered in a mathematics unit, or vice versa.)
- Using some time at recess or lunch to spend with a teacher or to do some practice in an area that they find challenging.
- Formal “safety netting” sessions after school where teachers stay after the normal school day to work with students who need extra assistance.
- The administration may schedule additional time for a student to work in a specific area of study.
- Younger students may seek the help of older students on a formal or informal basis.
- A student may spend more time at home in the evenings or on weekends working on areas that they find challenging. On occasion, students set themselves up with study groups or peer tutors.
- Some may hire tutors to help them.
There will be occasions when a student will be engaged in a course for more than one academic year. A student’s progress may be updated daily on the computerized status report program. This is available at any time. In order to ensure that parents, students, and staff are well informed of the progress that a student is making, student status reports are sent home five times per year. Parent-teacher conferences are also scheduled three times a year, once each term.
Success breeds success
QSI believes that there is a definite connection between how a student perceives their performance in a subject and how they actually perform in that subject. Students who consistently experience failure are unlikely to see themselves as successful. It is very important to break cycles of failure. One of the best ways to do this is to place students in situations where they will begin to experience success.
Following admission to the school, students are given an assessment to determine their level of performance in mathematics, reading, and writing. The results of these assessments are used to help determine the level of instruction that would be best for the students in the core courses. Based on these assessments, students are placed at the appropriate levels for achievement in each of the core courses. Students remain with their chronological age group for homeroom. They attend all courses not in the core group with their homeroom.
The progress of students who are placed in instructional groups below their age level is monitored. Once mastery is achieved, they are moved to their appropriate level. Students whose lack of English skills would prevent them from finding success in the main classroom are assigned to the Intensive English department. Here very small teacher-student ratios exist. Students will exit from Intensive English in stages.
It is the responsibility of the school to provide the conditions for success.
QSI believes that more learning will occur if students have a desire to learn, have positive feelings concerning the school environment, and have success in their work. A comfortable atmosphere of caring and acceptance is considered important. Students are encouraged to strive for excellence and creativity. An aesthetically pleasing environment, with a view to appreciation of beauty and order, enhances this. Student possibility of success increases when they work at the appropriate level of difficulty and sense positive expectations from well-qualified, experienced, and caring educators.
To achieve these conditions, QSI takes on the responsibility:
- to recruit educators who have a love for children, who have positive expectations of children, and who are willing to give the time and energy necessary to meet the needs of individual students.
- to employ educators who have acceptable values and who believe that their life style should be a positive influence on their students.
- to employ educators directly from outside of the country, if necessary, to provide experienced and successful educators for specific positions.
- to employ enough educators to maintain reasonably small class sizes.
- to provide facilities that support academic and activity programs.
- to assess each student in reading, mathematics, and writing upon initial enrollment to assure a proper entry level in these courses.
- to encourage parental support of the school with a view toward enhanced learning and the development of positive student attitudes.
To provide these conditions, the staff at QSI schools takes on the responsibility:
- to continually assess the students in all areas of learning to assure mastery.
- to ensure students know what learning tasks are expected.
- to provide appropriate learning experiences and allow students sufficient time on tasks to be able to experience success.
- to provide reteaching experiences if mastery is not achieved.
- to reward students equally for mastery.
- to evaluate students in a way that encourages self-growth rather than competition against other students’ achievements.
- to inspire students toward actualization of accomplishments in excellence and creativity.
- to provide a positive school atmosphere by working with a cooperative spirit supporting one another and encouraging a high morale and efficiency within the staff.
- to incorporate differentiated teaching methods and styles within the classroom.
The curriculum is based upon these objectives which are designed down from the school’s Exit Outcomes.
There are four levels of outcomes as follows:
- Exit Outcomes - In the beginning of the restructuring process these were developed for Sanaa International School and subsequently for QSI’s other schools. These were formulated in weekly meetings for an entire school year by a voluntary ‘core group’. The starting point was to imagine our definition of a model graduate and then write what that graduate would know, would be able to do, and would be like. This led to dividing the Exit Outcomes into three parts: Knowledge, Competencies, and Success Orientations. From this the school’s overall curriculum is developed. QSI particularly stresses success orientations which include trustworthiness, responsibility, concern for others, kindness/politeness, group interaction, aesthetic appreciation, and independent endeavor.
- Program Outcomes - These are derived from the Exit Outcomes and outline the school’s curriculum in each of the seven departments (English, Mathematics, Cultural Studies, Science, Languages other than English, Creative and Applied Arts, and Personal Health). Each course (8 year old reading, biology, algebra, etc.) is identified in the Program Outcomes
- Course Outcomes - These are derived from the Program Outcomes and give a more detailed description of each course and include information on materials available for the course.
- Unit Outcomes - Each course is divided into essential unit outcomes which are designed to require from 12 to 18 class periods for the student to attain mastery. These consist of a general statement and a series of measurable objectives (segment outcomes) which are used by the teacher and student to identify what the student must demonstrate in order to receive credit for the unit. Each unit has an evaluation instrument (usually two equivalent versions) used to determine student mastery and level of success. This may be a paper/pencil test, project, performance, or other means of determining student success.
Alignment – The teacher teaches, the materials support, and the mastery demonstrations test the objectives of the unit outcome. In other words teachers teach what they test and test what they teach. To do otherwise is not ethical. We want Mastery Learning, not Mystery Learning.
Expanded Opportunities - Students differ in time needed to attain mastery on a unit outcome. A variety of ways are employed to allow a student the time necessary, while those who need less time are able to engage in selective outcomes and receive additional credits.
Credentialing – Aligned with this structure is the reporting system. Mastery of each unit is evaluated at the time of completion with an ‘A’ or ‘B’ (mastery grades). Mediocre or poor work is not accepted. Completed work is assigned either ‘A’ ,or ‘B’, or ‘P’ – “You’re not done yet!”. If a student has mastered a unit with an evaluation of ‘B’, he or she may wish to demonstrate a higher level of mastery at a later time in the same school year in order to change the evaluation to an ‘A’. This encourages continued learning. Data is entered in a computer on a daily basis and ‘Status Reports’ can be produced at any time. A time period (quarter, term, semester) is not evaluated; student performance in each unit outcome in which a student is engaged is evaluated.
This results in enhanced student learning and high student motivation as students are rewarded for their successes.
The schools of QUALITY SCHOOLS INTERNATIONAL (QSI) have been founded in order to provide a quality education in the English language for expatriates living in the international community. Local citizens who want their children to be educated in English are also accepted. The schools recognize that most of the students are enrolled for only two or three years and have diverse educational backgrounds. The philosophy of QSI includes the following:
Attitudes Toward Learning
We believe that more learning will occur if the student has a desire to learn, has positive feelings concerning his/her school environment, and succeeds in his/her work. A comfortable atmosphere of caring and acceptance established by the school is considered important, so that each student is encouraged to strive for excellence and to be creative. This is enhanced by an aesthetically pleasing environment with a view to appreciation of beauty and order. Each student’s possibility of success increases when he works at the appropriate level of difficulty and senses positive expectations from his teachers.
Areas of Learning
Mastery of basic skills is considered a vital part of education, essential for success in studies of other subjects as well as in most situations in life. A broad and varied program of physical education, fine arts, and other activities is also considered important to enhance the interest and education of the students.
For a useful and meaningful life we encourage the development of personal qualities leading to acceptable values and harmonious relationships.
An understanding and acceptance of the different cultures represented in the school are considered important. We believe emphasis should be placed on gaining an appreciation and knowledge of the region and the local country in particular.
We believe it is essential to have an awareness of the value of protecting and improving our environment.
Attitudes toward learning
1. Functions of the Administration:
- a. To recruit teachers who have a love for children, who have positive expectations of children, and who are willing to give the time and energy necessary to meet the needs of individual students.
- b. To employ teachers who have acceptable values and who believe that their life style should be a positive influence on their students.
- c. To employ teachers directly from outside of the country, if necessary, to provide experienced and successful teachers for specific positions.
- d. To employ enough teachers to maintain reasonably small class sizes.
- e. To help teachers meet the individual needs of students by employing selected paraprofessionals.
- f. To provide spacious buildings and classrooms which are functional yet include local architectural designs with a view to blending into the local environment.
- g. To test each student in reading and mathematics upon initial enrollment to ensure a proper entry level in these classes.
- h. To encourage parental support of the school with a view to enhancing the learning and the development of positive attitudes of the students.
2. Functions of teaching staff:
- a. To continually assess the student in all areas of learning to ensure appropriate learning tasks leading to challenging work, but work in which hethe student is capable of experiencing success.
- b. To ensure that the student knows what learning tasks are expected.
- c. To provide appropriate learning experiences and allow each student sufficient time on a task to be able to experience success.
- d. To provide additional learning experiences, if mastery is the goal and if the task is not mastered after the initial teaching/learning experience.
- e. To reward students equally for mastering learning tasks regardless of the path taken to mastery. Not to give a higher reward to one who required a greater input of energy nor to one who easily and quickly attained mastery.
- f. To evaluate students in a way in which a student competes against himself/herself rather than against a fellow student.
- g. To inspire students to help them see what they can be and what they can accomplish with a view to excellence and creativity.
- h. To provide a positive school atmosphere by working with a cooperative spirit, giving support to one another, and encouraging a high morale and efficiency within the staff.
Areas of Learning
- To provide learning situations leading to mastery of appropriate topics in English and Mathematics for all students.
- To provide quality instruction in Science and Cultural Studies for all students.
- To offer quality programs of instruction in Physical Education, Music, and Art to all students.
- To provide classes in Intensive English as appropriate.
- To offer local and foreign languages as appropriate.
- To offer selected courses in national studies including non-English languages as appropriate, in support of academic adjustment upon repatriation.
- To offer courses in Technology to all students.
- To offer varied activities and elective classes which are not part of the regular academic program.
- To involve students in field trips and activities related to their classes, but away from school.
- To provide the appropriate materials, resources, and equipment for all areas.
- To encourage an understanding of one’s self with a view to developing acceptable values such as patience, kindness, unselfishness, honesty, and consideration for others.
- To provide a positive and secure atmosphere, treating the students honestly and fairly.
- To encourage each student to feel good about himself/herself and to help him/her promote similar feelings in fellow students.
- To provide guidance in problem-solving and decision-making situations.
- To develop a sense of responsibility and to encourage leadership.
- To encourage each student to recognize in a positive way his/her own nationality.
- To provide an atmosphere of cultural acceptance and understanding with a view to building healthy international relationships.
- To integrate into the curriculum studies of the local region and the country itself.
- To develop an awareness of environmental concerns such as overpopulation, pollution, waste of natural resources, destruction of wildlife and natural areas, and personal health.
- To promote a concern for the protection of the environment.
- To provide activities and projects for students which involve them in improving the environment.