Public education is a fragile yet critical resource and we have to do more to strengthen our public schools. People are willing to acknowledge that too many students are in schools that don’t give them an adequate chance to learn. Teachers know what it takes to be effective and administrators are working hard to get the necessary resources into their schools.
And yet. And yet.
There’s real concern about whether we can deliver to all students. I’ve been thinking a lot about this gulf between our effort and the nagging doubts about the ability to deliver success.
Why is it there? I think it’s because we’re afraid of the numbers. I can understand the inclination. I was never big on numbers. In third grade, 8 X 2 frustrated and defeated me.
Nationally, numbers have gotten a bad name in education. Rather than seeing them as helpful, we see them as punitive.
But, the numbers hold the key to translating our aspiration for public schools into a success story. The numbers can tell us which concepts our students have mastered and which ones need more work. Teachers need to know that. Parents need to know that and, yes, the taxpayers who fund schools need to know that too.
So let’s have an honest conversation about assessments, tests and all. Rather than an all or nothing question of to test or not to test, let’s start talking about how various measures can be put together to give us a multi-faceted picture of the complex work of teaching and learning. We need to be bold enough to be honest about what tests measure, what they can’t measure and what other data we can use to fill the gaps.
At VIVA Teachers, we know that teachers can drive this conversation. Put away the anti-testing rhetoric and the blame-the-teachers vitriol. And let the numbers help us find the right answer.
What’s a good example of how to use test data effectively?