What do test scores really mean?

As a parent (my husband and I have raised 11 children—all of whom attended public school), I always had questions when the school gave us the results of any standardized tests they had taken. What do these numbers really mean? What are you saying about my child? My concerns were compounded by my knowledge as a teacher of the problems inherent in this type of testing.

Consider this recent finding shared by Stephen Lazar in a recent blog on SchoolBook:

In New York, as Aaron Pallas, a professor at Columbia University, showed, having students answer just one more multiple-choice question correctly would lead to a 20-percentile-point jump in a teacher’s rating. That is insane!

Yet this insanity is being pushed on parents as if it were a truthful or even helpful representation of what our children know or can do. As a parent, what I REALLY wanted was an in-depth report from the classroom teachers of my children that could supplement, and in some cases correct the snapshot presented in the cryptic test reports. I never selected a teacher for my children based on the student test scores that teacher had the previous year. I did want a professional, who looked at each of my children as an individual with talents, interests, potential, goals, as well as needs.

It’s time to step back from the testing frenzy and see just what we have done to our children.

Sign the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing.