Friday, September 20, 2013


The Massachusetts' MCAS (standardized tests) scores are in.  The scores are posted and ranked in the local news, and no we were not number one.  Of course, like anyone, I like to be #1 and that's the aim each year, but with all competition aside, what can we cull from this report?

First, I work in a fortunate system.  The children are well cared for and the parents typically have the means to meet basic needs and more.  Hence, our scores are typically good overall.  We all know there's an economic edge to scores.

Next, the scores are one of many indicators from which to assess our work and draw conclusions. I typically analyze the scores with scrutiny and make new goals dependent on what I notice. Over the years my classes have had a range of scores, and when I analyze carefully I can see trends, areas for improvement, and areas that affirm our collective efforts.

After that, I remind myself this is one indicator of overall success for students.  These are relatively short tests where children (my students are fourth graders) sit at their desks for a l o n g time to answer paper/pencil questions that require a good memory, fine grasp of the skills/concepts, and the ability to apply those skills.  That's a lot to integrate for many fourth graders so there needs to be room for variability in scores.  The main area of importance is growth over time, and a positive attitude towards learning.  If we looked at successful adults' childhood scores, I imagine we'd see quite a range.

So let's take these scores for what they are, one indicator of collective and individual performance. Let's see what goals and potential growth for our teaching and student learning we can cull from these reports, and then let's continue on a renewed path of teaching children well.