The Wait…

Jen Robinson Assessment, Education, Education Policy

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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?


Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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Comments 6

  1. Mike Lee

    Great post, Jen. Ironically, this is my next topic; I just finished my blog about the scores. I’m hoping we get the time necessary to adjust and improve the assessment, instruction, etc. Raising the bar isn’t an easy or clean process, as you well know. Our history indicates we’ll panic and go back to what we’re comfortable with…. FIngers crossed.

    1. Jen Robinson

      Hi Mike-
      Thanks for sharing, If we are going to move forward and not default back we need to be transparent with teachers, students, parents, etc. and recognize just that change is not clean, neither is learning.

  2. Sandy Merz

    It just became my next topic, too. And I’m going to push back hard. Here’s a preview – Since I first saw Common Core practice assessments on Smarter Balanced I’ve said that there will be schools where not a single student is found proficient, and when that happens teachers will be blamed. No one has ever disagreed.

    1. Christine Porter Marsh

      Yes…teachers will be blamed. I wish that you were incorrect, but I don’t think you are. It will be further “evidence” to feed into the false narrative that our public schools are failing.

    2. Jen Robinson

      So how do we change that conversation to say that the data we are receiving is different, it represents a shift in education and a starting point?

  3. angelia ebner

    It goes back to what we learned at the summer institute years ago, data should be a point of inquiry and not the end all of who a student or their teacher is. Thank you for being an advocate for change.

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