Belleville District 118 Superintendent Matt Klostermann summed it up well: “Wow.”
Preliminary statewide results from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers are not leaving anyone happy. Only about one third of the state’s students met the reading standards. Math was worse, with most grades seeing less than 30 percent of students meeting standards. For high school math only 17 percent made the grade.
So why should anyone care about these scores?
First, because the idea behind this new test is to set a benchmark: Here’s what you need to know to be a success after high school, and here’s how you are progressing toward becoming a successful member of the workforce.
Second, testing shapes teaching. Curriculum will change to improve test scores and schools will teach their students to better take the new test.
Schools for more than three years have known about these new standards and tests, and we would have hoped students were already benefitting from changes — not waiting until next school year to see revision.
You also have to wonder about the state’s efforts to report “failing” scores as “approaching” and “partially meeting.” When little Suzie grows up to be a pilot, will the NTSB tell her she partially met the expectations for landing? Will little Johnny’s customers say he approached fixing their hair right?
Testing isn’t everything, but we judge our students’ progress regularly to assess their efforts and the effectiveness of their teachers and course materials. Most importantly, we test as a way to inform and engage parents in their children’s academic needs. Right now the tests are saying our kids will struggle after high school.
Some kids will succeed and some will fail no matter what education does with them. The vast majority are in the middle, where K-12 education and strong family support will shape the rest of their lives.
They deserve an assessment and action plan that doesn’t replace honesty with hot air beneath their wings. They deserve the best possible shot at success.