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What is educational excellence? The textbook definition of excellence is the highest quality to which something or someone excels. Determining what makes that “something” high quality can prove difficult, especially in education. In education the term “excellence” may be defined by surveys and institutional rankings. Or perhaps excellence is defined by the amount of resources that school has. If a school has unlimited financial resources, does that guarantee success? In the eyes of a student, educational excellence might be getting an A on their science project, finally understanding a difficult math problem or maybe it’s being passed into the next grade. Educational excellence in the eyes of teachers and school administrators is usually defined by student success. All students must be given the opportunity to reach their greatest potential and this idea has to start at home with the parents. Educational excellence begins with enthusiastic and engaged learners. The first step is making sure that children are capable of learning before they even step foot into a classroom. This is where parent involvement should begin, partnerships between the school and parents needs to be made early so that each student can get the most out of their education. Poverty, neglect and violence are learning barriers; if problems are identified early, adjustments can be made. Attempts to provide some form of “pre-kindergarten education” must be made early and this can only be done with help from home. Involved parents support the learning process, influence schools and make choices about their children’s education.Another key element to educational excellence is school safety and discipline. In light of the recent school tragedies, the importance of school safety is in the forefront. School safety creates safe, secure and caring learning environments. Emphasis should be placed on physical safety as well as emotional wellbeing. Physical safety should include procedures such as the use ID badges, video surveillance equipment, and practice drills to prepare for a potential “crisis”. Emotional wellbeing could include trainings and workshops for teachers regarding bullying prevention. Early identification and intervention for at-risk students is imperative. Defining educational excellence is not easy and neither is measuring it, but it is necessary. Just saying that a student or school is successful isn’t enough these days. Everything has to be in line with the “standards”. Standards are expectations of what students need to know and they should be defined in measurable terms. The only way to measure them is through testing. Tests that are valid, reliable and fair are the best resources for tracking a schools progress toward the goal of student success. Assessments should give students, teachers, parents and the public meaningful feedback that they can use. Assessments and standardized testing are sometimes seen in a negative light, when they should be seen as learning tools. Educators and administrators need to know how to present and explain assessment data to the community. If done correctly, the reports can help build support for schools and for initiatives that educators wish to carry out. If results are poorly reported, they can reflect poorly on the school. When testing scores for a school are low, the public has a tendency to blame the school environment. By explaining the results and offering suggestions for improvement administrators can gain the support of the community.The last key to educational excellence is professional development. Professional development generally refers to ongoing learning opportunities available to teachers, and other education personnel. Schools need to find ways to support professional development; the demands and requirements being placed on teachers is constantly growing and changing. In order for them to help their students reach higher standards of learning and development they need appropriate training and coursework. Continued educational excellence depends on effective professional development. Educational success is a team effort. Students, teachers, policymakers and the community all need to work together to ensure that every student is successful. They may not all graduate with a 4.0 or go on to be the world’s top surgeon, but each student needs to be given the opportunity to reach their greatest potential, whatever that might be!