Lamenting Test Scores

Do you know who complains about test score? People who get mediocre test scores.

WEST BEND — In the wake of district report cards, one school board member is calling for reform to consider other student accomplishments in addition to raw numbers.

West Bend Board of Education member Nancy Justman asked a question she said she poses every year — will the Department of Public Instruction ever take into consideration information other than test scores?

“Are we ever going to get to a point where we get student achievement beyond the ACT or Aspire or whatever? This is irritating to me,” Justman said. “We have students who probably are 3.8 or 4.0 students who aren’t necessarily great test takers, so they feel bad after the test, even though they’re some of our highest graduating students doing remarkable things.”

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The West Bend School District scored a 72.3 percent — meets expectations, which is .7 percent away from the next highest category. In total, 96 percent of Wisconsin schools scored meets or exceeds expectations, including the West Bend schools.

Is there anyone who thinks that test scores are the end all, be all of student evaluation? Does anyone really think that anyone else sums up the value of a person by their test scores? Of course not. We all know that there are smart kids who stink at tests and dumb kids that do well, but they are the exception.

Test scores are what they are: a standard way to measure the quality of education in similar student populations. Comparing West Bend’s scores to Milwaukee, for example, is not really useful. The student bodies are vastly different demographically. But comparing West Bend to Slinger, Fond du Lac, Beaver Dam, etc., is useful. It allows the public to get a relative gauge of the quality of education being offered at similar districts.

Instead of worrying that test scores don’t measure the whole child, which everyone knows, perhaps the district board and administration should be looking into why our district’s test scores lag comparable districts.

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