The recruitment and retention of students is arguably the main goal of any school admissions department. However, an underlying caveat is that the recruitment and retention process of students should also positively affect staff and teacher retainment. In other words, when the expectations between the admissions staff and teaching staff are similar with regards to prospective students and families, then staff and teachers are usually more satisfied and less likely to leave a school over time. These expectations can run the gamut from prospective students’ English levels, intrapersonal and academic skills, to expectations that teachers and admission staff may have when communicating with a prospective student’s parents. For the purpose of discussion, these expectations will be referred to as a prospective student’s potential ‘fit’ with a school. The first question being, how does one determine the ‘fit’ of a prospective student or family?

A Student’s True ‘Fit’
In one sense, admission staff are tasked to find the unachievable. ‘True fit’ is much like a student’s ‘true score’ in academic testing: we can only approximate a student’s true academic score in a subject through multiple test sessions over time, utilizing the same testing conditions and tests. Many variables under a school’s control, such as the timing of the test or time between tests, may be subject to change, not to mention the uncontrollable variables of a student’s health on the day of testing or differences between classes in the same grade level. For admission staff, the added challenge is to complete their determination of a prospective student’s ‘fit’ in a limited number of testing or interview events that will not be repeated over time and can be composed of multiple academic subjects or behavior assessments.

Admission staff have some common tools for determining a student’s fit, such as recommendation letters, school reports, trial lessons, as well as their own in-house testing regime for prospective students and their interview process. At Capital Tokyo International School, we use these tools, but realized that some of the tools utilized were inauthentic and not suited to determining specifically what our faculty desired with regards to prospective students. Therefore we looked at ways to include our teachers in the admission process in order to align expectations and better determine a student’s fit. We also borrowed from best practices in medical science on how team interviews are used by hospitals when hiring staff to join a specific medical team. For hospitals, including potential team members in the interview process had the following benefits:

  • Potential team members had more specific knowledge of the job content than hospital administrators and could easily determine if an applicant had the correct experience and know-how to do the job they were applying for.
  • Potential personality clashes or issues with work ethic could easily be identified and addressed during the interview process, avoiding future problems in the team.
  • Team members could suggest effective and targeted next steps in the interview process for administrators to follow up on, such as a demonstration of a candidate’s skills.

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