As April approaches, it is testing time in Missouri. I've been thinking about what outcomes truly matter from these tests. I'm not working in a place where high-stakes testing really means high-stakes. No one is losing their jobs over the scores. The school isn't being closed down, and even if there is some push back from the community, it will fade quickly. There are only two positive outcomes that I could come up with.
The tests provide us with information to celebrate about a few individual students that will be deemed proficient for the first time in their school career. I always hope for more students to break through this achievement ceiling, but in reality, it is only a few each year. The second, and probably the most important outcome from our state testing, is when we are successful in continuing the trend upward, we then create the space that we need to develop the rest of the programming for the whole child. Good test scores allow us to spend time planning events and expeditions. It allows us even more time to focus on individual student needs beyond math and communication arts. It allows us the chance to be creative and take new risks.
When success is deemed too low, we begin to have more forced mandates and programming. We shine a brighter light on our school from central office and the community, and we create stress in our staff that impacts performance. So for the next few weeks, let's change our lens about testing, and put the results in perspective, but also let's realize that all of our lives will be in better balance if we squeeze the best out of our students on these tests.