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You are More Than the Score: A Reminder to all Stakeholders

As we enter the season of Spring we also enter the season of State Testing. Included in this post is a friendly reminder to all stakeholders that you matter so much more than the scores on the tests. Let’s not forget what our focus really is…creating creative thinkers. That is the point of education; to foster caring, creative thinkers instead of supporting cookie cutter learners.

Below is a brief note to each stakeholder to help you refocus on what truly is important in your role. I would first like to address our most important stakeholders, the kids…

Dear Students,

You are more than the score. Standardized State tests are one way to measure your academic progress at school. They are a snapshot picture of where you may be at according to specific tests that measure specific goals. They are not summative of what you know, how smart you really are, or your character. The tests do not measure your compassion, your work ethic, your creativity or your leadership skills. Of course you want to try your best on testing day! Just remember you should strive for your best every day. Don’t ever let a number tell you how to feel about yourself. You are more than the score.

Dear Teachers,

You are more than the score. Breathe teacher. It is just a test. It in no way measures what type of teacher you are or the difference you are making. Can the test measure the relationships you have made with the children in your classroom? Can the test measure the joy that you have brought to your students’ lives? Can the test measure the social emotional progress your students have made this school year? No. It is simply one way to provide a certain type of data. I bet when you think back to why you became a teacher standardized testing data would not be one of the reasons on your list. Yes! Prepare your kids. Encourage them to do their best, but remember encouragement should be an ongoing part of your classroom year round not just for the test. Your purpose as an educator is to support and guide learning; it is not to spoon feed facts so students will score higher on some test. Don’t ever let a number tell you how to feel about yourself as a teacher. You are more than the score.

Dear Principal,

You are more than the score. We need you more now than ever! We need you as our advocate. You must be an advocate for the teachers you work with and the children you serve. You know that data drives instruction. You know that in the real-world tests scores are high stakes. But you also know that the scores on the tests in no way measure what is really happening in the walls of your building. We need your voice. We need you to set up an environment where testing does not matter as much as learning does. As a leader of the school you set the tone. You decide if you want to foster an environment of competition or collaboration. Whichever of the two you choose is what will be felt throughout your school. If you are comparing scores with other schools in the state or your scores from prior school years you are setting up a competitive and stressful environment. That stress trickles down to the teachers and then to the kids. Your role matters so much. Don’t ever let a number tell you how to feel about yourself as a school leader. You are more than the score.

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