My Success According to Standardized Tests


Pretty much everybody agrees that standardized testing is an ineffective measure of what a student has really learned at best and a manipulative, soul-crushing tool at worst, but just in case anyone was wondering, I got my students’ preliminary end-of-level test scores back today.

A little background info:

*most schools consider you a good teacher if your proficiency rate is 80% or higher
*my school was pushing for all Language Arts teachers to get 90% proficiency (a lofty goal–only one LA teacher out of the entire school got that high last year, and she got a straight 90%)
*the scores on the test range from 1-4, with a three being proficient (in other words, on grade level standard), and a four being advanced

With that in mind, I’m feeling a bit proud of myself today (even though you can hardly put much stock in test scores):

*Overall, 91% of my students received proficient scores (woo hoo!)
*I had 27 students who improved their score a whole point from last year (so a 3 to a 4 or a 2 to a 3)
*I had one girl jump from a one to a three, which is almost unheard of (I’ve been working pretty hard with her all year)
*I had one girl get a 75% last year (a 3), and then get a 98% (4) this year
*I had eight students who dropped down their score (sad day), mostly from 4’s to 3’s
*I had ten students out of 109 who didn’t meet proficiency (aka, they got a 2 or lower)
*Nine of those students got 2’s, only one got a one

This is where I stop and put some perspective into those numbers. Like the quote above says, numbers can’t measure everything (or you can’t tell everything from the numbers alone). For instance, my one student who got a 1 on the test recently moved here last year from El Salvador. Last year when he took the test (mere months after arriving in the contry), he scored a 0% (earning him a 1). This year he also got a one–but got 42%. Do either of those numbers adequately reflect his progress this year?

Of course not.

Nor do those scores show AT ALL the amazing progress my students have made in their writing over the course of this year (because these standardized tests don’t measure writing in the slightest).

But even though these scores can hardly reflect my (real) success as a teacher, is it bad that I’m still pretty darn proud of myself (and my students)?


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