You don’t need a standardized test to know how well a school is performing. You just need to check the bathroom. If the bathroom is dirty and filled with graffiti, the school probably isn’t very good. If it’s clean, with plenty of toilet paper, that’s a good sign. Writing for Miller-McCune, school evaluator Folwell Dunbar outlines this and other “soft measures” to judge the quality of a school, none of which fit into a standardized test. A few of the highlights include:
Classroom windows and/or the vertical slits on school doors are covered over with dark construction paper. Trust me, it's seldom for purely decorative purposes.
Children clutch long pencils with ground-down erasers. If this is the case, chances are students are more concerned about making mistakes than taking chances.
Civics teachers don't keep up on current events. Science teachers aren't excited about the latest scientific breakthrough. English teachers don't read for pleasure. Physical education teachers are overweight and/or smoke.
You could also see many of these indicators from watching The Wire.
Source: Miller McCune