Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Background Noise - What I Think of Test Scores

Schools are continually discussing data and test performance.  In TurnAround Schools: Creating Cultures of Universal Achievement, Lopez  says, "The most commonly spoken language at a school should be the language of data." As the principal, data pertaining to student achievement is the way our school and our students are measured against all others. I study data. I know my school's data. I talk to my teachers about data. I get it.

While I agree with Mr. Lopez about data, and I love talking about "Creating a Culture of Universal Achievement," I do not believe that testing and the results are the be all, end all to measure our students and their learning. In fact, I have told my staff that it is background noise to what our real mission is.  Our students are so much more than their scores. Our school is so much more than those scores. I will never stop working until every student achieves their full potential.  In fact, I have been told that it would be irresponsible to set a goal that "Every student, without exception and without excuse, will be academically proficient in the core academic areas of reading, writing and math." (Lopez and King). Well then I'm irresponsible!

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go." T.S. Eliot

I have high expectations for my students and even higher expectations for my teachers. I continually challenge them to take risks and step outside the box in order give our students amazing experiences. Dave Burgess says about education in Teach Like A Pirate that it should be, "....life altering product that can transform the human spirit and literally change the world, one student at a time."

What does this have to do with test scores.  Nothing. As Mr. Burgess so ably puts it, "It is not about raising statistics....it is about raising and fulfilling human potential."   Our mission must be to continually find ways to reach our students in ways that were never before thought of (did  you see, I ended this sentence with a preposition and I've been told that this is now acceptable. I'm crazy). We need to live outside of the box. We need to inspire creativity and greatness in our students. We need to make sure that we continually move forward and never, ever settle for mediocrity. If we do all of this, then the test scores will take care of themselves.





3 comments:

  1. Wonderful perspective, Jay! We need more maverick leaders like you in education. "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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  2. Something I try to keep in mind is that data are both quantitative and qualitative. While we tend to use the word "data" as synonymous with "standardized test scores", discussions and stories are qualitative data that can and should inform all aspects of our practice more holistically than a narrow focus on test scores.

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    1. Thanks Damian. I do get the qualitative and quantitative part. I originally began writing to talk more about the untested skills and qualities that we give our students. That was the perspective I was coming from.

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