I want to share with you a letter to the editor that I recently submitted to my hometown paper. In a short editorial, written on the first day public schools opened in Alamance County, the editor gave a laundry list of things he hoped the schools would accomplish during the school year. I felt that goals related to actual learning were conspicuously absent. I believe that this editorial is an example of the way in which the majority of the media, perhaps unintentionally, propagates the notion that standardized test scores are the be-all and end-all in assessing learning.
- Students being genuinely engaged in learning, studying not just for the sake of a score on a test, but because they find their classes to be meaningful and interesting.
- Valuing students’ and educators’ accomplishments over the full course of a year’s work, rather than measuring success or failure by one number at the end of the school year.
If we could achieve those two goals I believe that some of the ones you listed, such as improved grades, graduation rates and attendance, as well as lower dropout rates, absenteeism and disciplinary problems, might well take care of themselves. The true purpose of education is that students learn, and acquire a desire to continue learning, not that they make a certain score on a particular test …..isn’t it?