The inevitable is coming later this month. Arizona standardized assessment results will be released. We know the preliminary data is dismal showing most Arizona students are not proficient in reading or math. I have unsettled feelings about the score release and what the implications for our teachers and students will be. Test scores coming mid-school year can quickly derail forward progress.
How do we examine and analyze the data for what it is and stay focused on teaching and learning? How do we stay mindful and focused on the benefits and importance of rigorous standards and not get caught in the numerical data? Could this be the tipping point for education in Arizona? Legislators, policy makers and parents are already wavering and questioning the new standards.
When the results are released to districts and schools, how do we keep the message positive and keep the momentum moving forward? Expect More Arizona refers to the new state assessment as, “An annual checkup – an important opportunity to find out how students are doing. Just as doctors check height and weight, teachers and parents use the test to check how students are performing in reading, writing and math.” What needs to happen in order to examine this data as a starting point for our teachers and students?
How do we shift from the common paradigm of testing to a highly effective paradigm? Linda Darling Hammond calls this, “An emerging paradigm for accountability anchored in a new vision for learning, fostering a culture of inquiry and continuous improvement at all levels. This model must nurture collaborative change that can transform schools to innovative learning systems for the future and enable thoughtful risk-taking informed by continuous evaluation to inform improvement.”
So what will your message to teachers, students, parents and policy makers be? Are you going to stand your ground, embrace change and a new paradigm of education and what could be? Or are you going to default to what we have always done and expect different results?