What we should do about low test scores

Test scores for kids (specifically 9 year olds) dropped to their lowest levels in decades.

What we should do about low test scores
Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu / Unsplash
"you're more than a number" You're More Than a Number in my Little Red Book by The Drifters

The scores are in and... You may have seen in recent headlines that the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released test scores from the end of last school year with dramatic results. Test scores for kids (specifically 9 year olds) dropped to their lowest levels in decades. The world of ed news is freaking out and I'm concerned.

What's going on? I’m not concerned about the drop in scores- with effort and consistency, that can be made up. I’m more concerned about the approach taken to fix low scores. In my career, I’ve sat in countless data meetings, data dinners, data dives, and data pep rallies focused on "lifting" data. The effort to lift the data often starts with cutting the fat -- or rather, the fun -- from schools.

My concern here is we are going to quantify a unique moment in time. The push to improve test scores will take the fun out of classrooms. There’s already too much teaching to the test and drilling in US schools. What I’m seeing from the reaction to the test results is to expect even more of the same.

That means there’s no time for the arts, the fun electives, no time for field day, or the school play, no time for extra sports or all the things that make kids feel alive and part of a community at school.

We can't let these low test scores make schools unhappy places. So many kids are already under the pressure that their worth is a number- schools need to be well-balanced places where you are more than your grades.

After all, getting straight A's doesn't mean you're automatically a good person and leading a happy life.

So what can you do? If you have a child in school or work with them, make sure they are learning balance. The children who were in school during the pandemic have had it hard enough. Of course they need a well rounded education, but they also need to be kids. As the adults in the room, it's on us to make sure these headlines don't result in stress on our next generation.

Share this newsletter with a friend! ...and let me know what you think about the test scores.

Yours in education,