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Searching for Test Score Accountability in Ky. Community Becomes A 'Blame Game'

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Editors of the Morehead News, in Morehead, Ky., thought they were asking their readers a clear-cut question on the publication's website this month.

The question: Who should be held accountable for the three Rowan County public schools that failed to meet their state testing goals this past spring? The newspaper posted five possible answers: principals, faculty, superintendent, parents, and the school board. After the first week, and based on readers' comments, editors also added students as a potential response. (According to the paper, some readers complained about "disinterested and lazy students" who don't take the state tests or school, in general, seriously.)

Then, on Oct. 14, the Morehead News announced in an editorial that it had pulled the poll from its website, citing a "rash of complaints and finger-pointing toward all six constituencies."

Not surprisingly, most poll respondents placed the blame squarely on the district's superintendent, with 57 votes, which was followed closely behind by teachers with 47 votes. Parents received 30 votes, while students received 24 votes, the newspaper reported.

The online poll of residents in this community in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains was small. Still, some of the poll responses about who should be held accoutable for the schools' struggles, which were detailed in the newspaper's editorial, highlight concerns and challenges faced by some schools across the nation:

  • Teachers who lack adequate support from the administration. 
  • Teachers who are failing to prepare students properly for state tests.
  •  Uninterested parents who emphasize sports and extracurricular activities over school work.
  •  Students too preoccupied with or distracted by social media to focus on their academics.

Trying to find out who should be held accountable for a public school's poor test scores can sometimes become a futile effort. Perhaps the more productive question for this community would be: How can you help these failing schools' students meet and exceed their education goals so that they can be successful in the future?

It's a tough question that yields few easy answers. But often, it's the one question that's worth asking.

 

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