High Expectations and Excuses

Everywhere we read, books have chapters devoted to the importance of high expectations for student learning, but what if we’ve overused or misconstrued this important concept in ways that actually hurt our impact on learning?

What if this great push for high student expectations is now synonymous with students achieving high scores? 

Maybe that’s not the case in your setting (and great for you!), but if it is the case, I urge you to consider the case study from Episode 10 along with these two facts:

  • High performance on a test does not always equal high impact on learning.
  • It is often the case that a greater impact on learning exists with lower test scores.

Enter the fallacy of ranking, and the danger of this fallacy is that it creates blind spots – false positives and uncovered gems. A false positive is when there are high scores (compared in a ranking), but there’s low impact on learning. An uncovered gem is a scenario (a teacher, a team, or a campus) where there’s amazing impact on learning, but it doesn’t show up in a rank.

When these blind spots exist, a learning system cannot be adequately evaluated and “high expectations” often turn into excuses. The biggest danger of excuses is that they affect students’ expectations for themselves as learners (aka Visible Learning).


Three Foundational Concepts for Impact on Learning:
1) Educators’ Expectations for Students
2) Educators’ Excuses (often unintentional due to blind spots)
3) Students’ Expectations for Themselves

If you’d like to dig a little deeper into student expectations and excuses, check out Episode 10: No Excuses.

Listen to No Excuses here on the web, on Apple Podcasts, or here on Google Podcasts.





One response to “High Expectations and Excuses”

  1. […] it happens through passion, drive, and relationships. It’s that full-fledged balance between No Excuses and […]