Schools Are Not a One Trick Pony

The other day I ran into a gentleman who is one of the administrators at the school my two boys will attending next year. I introduced myself and let him know my boys would be attending the school he works at next year. The first thing he said is that it’s a good school and that the test scores are “good”. I don’t mean to sound flippant but this totally bummed me out. Why was this the first and pretty much only thing he put forth as measure of the school? I’m sorry but I could really care less about test scores. Why didn’t he tell me about the blog the Spanish teacher has created so her students can extend the learning that goes on in the classroom at home. Or that the school was live streaming the 2nd grade musical celebration? Or the fact that the specialist teachers have created their own website to help parents feel connected to the awesome things they do… or that the school is in its second year of focusing on STEM skills in a STEM lab… or that they have an after school robotics club… and I’m sure I could go on and on. Sigh….

I guess my point is why not showcase the things schools are doing that really make a difference in the lives of our students. The type of things that maybe a single score on a single test can’t measure. Standardized tests are very good at measuring a very narrow band of skills. What goes on at school is the opposite of narrow. It touches almost every aspect of a young persons life. We need to recognize this reality and showcase the things we do in schools to meet the diverse needs of our students. We can’t keep saying that we shouldn’t focus solely on test scores and then provide nothing else as a measure of success. We need to be thinking about how we (parents, teachers, students) can accurately represent and disseminate what schools truly accomplish.

Not sure why but when I was jotting down this post this Ted talk from Sir Ken Robinson popped in my head. You’ve probably already seen it but if not enjoy!

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About Benjamin J Sheridan

Instructional designer at the University of Kentucky.
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2 Responses to Schools Are Not a One Trick Pony

  1. Hi Benjamin,
    This post made me very sad. The first and really only thing he said to you is about test scores. I know you are now in the US and can you imagine if a teacher said that to you in an international school. There is no way that would happen. Best thing you can do is what you did, research the other great things about the school.

    I am moving to the US after 16 years internationally and am so scarred for my 7 yr old and the kind of school she will attend. I keep making myself feel better with, I am an educated educator and I will be on top of things where the school lacks and not stress so much about these tests.
    Thanks for the blog post.
    Anne

    Reply
    • Hi Anne, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I hesitated with this post because there is so much negativity flying when it comes to schools and test scores and I didn’t want to add to that. In conversations with folks here they tell me people have been conditioned to believe that test scores are an accurate measure of a schools success. I don’t agree with that and that is why I wrote the post. When it comes down to it I know my son is getting what he needs. By the way I know it’s not fair and I’ve tried really hard not to compare his school here with the international schools he’s attended so far.

      I had the opportunity last fall to work with teachers from all over the state of KY and they were as dedicated, hardworking, and passionate as any educator I’ve met the world over. But typically when you read something about schools here in the US it inevitably revolves around test scores. I just think it’s time to take control of the message and to convey a more complete picture of what goes on in a school.

      Reply

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