Letter to the Editor
The state released the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) results last week. That is the high-stakes standardized test that supposedly will be used to evaluate public schools, administrators and teachers.
The results told us many things we already knew. Who did the worst? Students of poverty, often minorities. Who did the best? Those from wealthier communities and homes. The “achievement gap’ still persists—that should be to the surprise of nobody, because poverty still persists in our great state.
We need to tackle poverty in more effective ways (I have created a state-wide Task Force to, in fact, study that). There are several useful conversations we should have about these tests.
We have never had a thorough discussion of what it is we want all students to learn. Is it the same for everyone? I believe it is a complex question with a complex answer, not one simply measured by one test. The second question is, how do we best evaluate schools, teachers, administrators and student growth?
Will a once-a –year standardized test do that? To me, that severely limits what we can measure and, as a result, what we expect students to learn. There is no doubt, as these tests are more and more used to evaluate and eventually fire education employees, there will be an ever greater push to teach to the tests. Is that the best we can do in education? What about enthusiasm, excitement over learning, creativity, artistic or musical progress, life skills, moral lessons, learning how to treat other humans humanely? Not on a standardized test.
We can do better than this, but we need public conversations about these issues. I would appreciate support in being elected to the local Board of Education so I can help work on these issues.
Bob Brown, Plantsville