This week and next week we are giving the annual ISAT test mandated by the state of Illinois. Next year, we will switch to the computerized PARCC test brought about by the adoption of the Common Core State Standards. What won’t switch will be the carrot and stick philosophy that has dominated education throughout the last 30 years whether Republicans or Democrats have been in charge.
I am a data nerd. I love sifting through our data to see how we can improve and I believe in accountability. We should be accountable for showing increased results in student learning and making sure we have a great public school system should be the concern of everybody in the community whether they have kids in the system or not. Although I am not an advocate of our current system of standardized testing and the way that data is used to punish and intimidate, I strongly believe that if we do the right thing for our students, the test scores will most likely take care of themselves. We will use the information from this year’s test as best as we can to improve learning for students, but there is a lot this test won’t measure.
It won’t measure that I heard kids in our cafeteria discussing The Lightning Thief with their friends long after the discussion had ended in the classroom.
It won’t measure the time teachers have invited students in before or after school to try to help them understand that math lesson that just hasn’t clicked yet.
It won’t measure the student I observed in a classroom who was so excited to share the connection he was making with another book that he read that it looked like he might spontaneously combust.
It won’t measure the student who was in my office a few mornings ago because his dog died the night before and he just needed some time to chat with a fellow dog lover who could listen and understand what he was going through.
It won’t measure the countless hours being spent by teachers to develop new materials and reflecting on new and engaging ways to hook students in.
It won’t measure the student who went home and worked on writing on his blog even though it wasn’t assigned by his teacher.
It won’t measure the student who started out the year three grade levels behind in reading, who is still behind, but is gaining ground and now loves reading.
It won’t measure a million other things that are part of being a great school.
It won’t measure the heart of many teachers who treat each student how they would expect their own to be treated.