What School Systems Can Learn from Hospitals about Outcome-Based Evaluations

NJ Spotlight reports that the quality of  New Jersey’s hospitals, once rated 5th in the country,  dropped to 22nd place after a non-profit watchdog group called Leapfrog issued its “semiannual report on the prevalence of medical errors, accidents, infections, and other quality-of-care measures in more than 2,500 hospitals nationwide.”

The new survey is based on a new methodology that bases half of ratings on patient outcomes and the other half on “facility processes.” Leapfrog assigns points for each metric and then grades hospitals on a scale of  “A” to “F.”  N.J. hospital ratings ranged from A to C, except for Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, which got a D, and  St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark which got an F.

Oh, gosh: cover your ears in anticipation of the outcry from nurses, doctors, and hospital administrators. How can staff members and the institutions for which they work be responsible for patient outcomes? Some patients come in sicker or with a history of poor health management or without access to medical advances. Some hospitals serve clientele in neighborhoods that lack preventative care. Evaluations like Leapfrog will force hospitals to narrow their services to generate higher scores or offload sicker patient to other facilities! It’s a sham!

Um, actually, David Ricci, president and CEO of F-rated St. Michael’s told Spotlight,
“Physicians, nurses, and staff at Saint Michael’s are focused on continually improving patient safety and the quality of care. Quality is not one department; it’s everyone’s responsibility,” Ricci said. Efforts are already underway to improve outcomes at the Newark hospital, he said, adding that the new ownership “is fully committed to participating in the Leapfrog survey in the future and having Saint Michael's scores truly reflect the quality of healthcare that we provide to our patients.”
Huh. Imagine if we could have the same sort of honest, apolitical discussions about student outcomes and teacher effectiveness. Now that’s something to aspire to.