Recently, I received an email from my son's school district via PowerSchool that his CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) score had been posted. A sudden urge hit me to quickly open up the PDF file to see how he scored. I went through the data line by line eager to see how he matched up against his peers nationally. I was quite impressed with the results and soon found myself smiling as any proud father would. For now, I know that he will bode well with his education in the years to come because he works his tail off in school and at home to expand his skills and knowledge.
But then it hit me. I soon realized that I fell into the "standardized testing" trap. What was I thinking? Don't get me I wrong. I am a firm believer in using assessment data to impact student success. Stakeholders must realize though that it's only one piece to the puzzle. The excitement generated from awaiting the results of these types of tests is not worth the price of admission. If anything, as parents we must be using our enthusiasm to ask questions pertaining to the data and how it will be used to guide instruction.
So what comes of all of this? Parents, including myself, must under-react when they receive their child's test scores. The urge to compare needs not to happen. The focus instead should be on the whole picture pertaining to things like grades, social and emotional growth, character development, and extracurricular participation to name a few. Add in the test scores and then you are able to truly see the progress your child is making. Getting caught up in the "your school's test scores are worse than my school's test scores" doesn't help anyone.
How will I react when I receive my son's PARCC results next school year? Not sure. I hope with a more subdued reaction that takes into account all the other tools of measurement that keep track of his progress. Honestly, I will be more concerned with the impact PARCC might have on the day to day operations of my son's school. I will also be keeping an eye on how his school will make sure they budget for extra equipment and infrastructure upgrades to ensure that innovative classroom instruction is not disrupted while others are testing. I also want to be very open with the fact that I am more interested in my son's teacher making a connection with him on a personal level and how they will expose him to meaningful learning experiences.
The state of education is in a tricky place right now. Make no mistake about it, it's great to see students being challenged more and data being used in creative ways to impact student success. But we must make sure that the whole child is addressed and resources are being utilized appropriately. As children become older we must be aware of over testing, particularly in the Spring months with Final Exams, PARCC, SATs, and possibly NAEP. So what are your thoughts and hopes moving forward? Please share in the comment section.