Anytime test scores or data about the schools in our district are reported, our local newspaper takes that data and reports it. As they report it, they rank and list the schools in order from highest to lowest or basically best to worst. This type of reporting automatically creates a competitive nature between the schools in our district.
This same type of ranking is used among sports teams. Based upon their previous years of performance and this year’s record, teams from high school to pro are ranked with a number. Everyone wants to be number one and everyone else wants to beat number one. When schools are ranked using their standardized test scores, I cannot think of a principal or school administrator that wouldn’t want their school to be at the top of the list.
We live in a world where we hear words like sharing and collaboration. Educators should develop a Personal Learning Network (PLN) to get new ideas and help solve problems. I personally believe in collaborating and using a PLN to get ideas and opinions. I want to hear what others have done and are doing to bring success to their classrooms. I too want that same success in my classrooms in the schools that I work with. Technology, social networking, and the Internet have now made it easier than ever to find and connect with professionals all around the world. What an awesome concept huh? We should all be sharing these cutting edge techniques to help the future of our country and world to be better educated.
However, would you expect the number one ranked NFL or NCAA team to publish their playbook that has helped them be successful? Should they give away all of their secrets to help the other teams improve? I don’t think so. If a coach has designed plays and defensive formations that work, they will want to keep those a secret in order to stay on top. School administrators and even teachers have this same attitude when it comes to education and standardized test scores. It is very sad, but it is reality. We don’t want the school in which we work to be at the bottom of the ranking list. Therefore we don’t want to share out with our rival schools what is working for us. We don’t want to collaborate and let them steal are lessons. They might do it better and beat us in the test score ranking and that makes us look bad. Do you see where I am going with this?
Now lets get this straight, I am not one that is against holding teachers and administrators accountable. What I am against is basing a school’s success on one test that is given only a few days out of the 180-day school year and putting that school on public display with a number that does not really reflect the quality or success of that school. This does nothing but create tension and an unhealthy climate among educators.
If we want education in the United States to be high quality and cutting edge, then we have to knock down the competition barrier that standardized tests are creating. We need to encourage sharing and collaboration of our successes. All educators across our towns, counties, and states need to be unified. Lets prepare our students for the future with the best we have to offer.