Jack Welch

JACK WELCH From the Bleachers

Most people define the success of sports teams by the scoreboard. Coaches know the scoreboard does not tell the full story. A losing team might have played the best game of the year while the winning team played poorly. Standardized testing can be compared to a football contest.

Standardized testing is a contentious subject and stirs people on both sides of the issue. We are in the test-driven curricula era. What gets tested, gets taught. So, test question writers are determining what the students learn.

Most school districts would rather give a report to their community than have people see results as they appear. Educators, parents, and policymakers might think change in year-to-year test scores signals impact, but it says more about the change in who the students are because it is not measuring the growth of the same student from one year to the next.

Let’s look at a football team. You can see how a 9th grade football team compares to other 9th grade teams. Each year until they graduate, this group of players will show their growth and improvement. One of my runner-up state championship teams demonstrated how improvement abounds with one group. This team’s seniors did not win a district game as freshmen but played for the state championship as seniors. I would say that is growth and improvement.

This is not the way standardized testing is set up. The test scores look at the different students each year. Consequently, one-year scores do not show the growth of the previous years’ students.

There are many educators for and against this issue facing public schools. Scores from these tests may or may not make a district appear like they are achieving. Consequently, what is the answer? The answer is simple to me. Statewide testing does not show the whole story.

For instance, many things public schools do well are not in the accountability system. Why not? Why does the accountability system not allow school districts to be rated with more educational activities and other important issues?

What is the purpose of accountable standardized testing? While some believe standardized tests are a fair and objective measure of student achievement, many believe it is to discredit public education, which would help privatize education. Many educators believe the state testing systems purposely interpret data in an ambiguous manner to easily confuse and mislead the public.

The cost for the accountable standardized testing is very expensive. Should school districts use the same money used on standardized testing to provide a better education or does the testing system improve education?

I guess it would all depend on each individual school district. I believe most of us think it should be left up to the local community to govern their district and the testing monies should be given to the local districts.

Thought for the week, “Good men are bound by conscience and liberated by accountability.” — Wes Fessler.

Jack Welch grew up in Osawatomie. He holds a Doctor of Education degree and has been a college and high school football coach for 39 years. He can be reached at jackwelch1975@gmail.com.

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