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How Do You Define Academic Success?

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Pondiscio at Core Knowledge provides a cautionary reminder that it's entirely possible for a kid to ace standardized tests and still not know all that much:

What the data doesn’t show ... is that out in the real world there are very different metrics [than test results] at work. There’s too often far less to our current definition of success than meets the eye.
4 Comments

Test results are such a small part of what a child actually knows or are experts in. There are many different sorts of brilliance -- not all academic. I realize schools need to know where kids stand in the most basic areas, however I truly wish there was a way for the other areas of a child's skill set to be explored and praised.

We know that; that tests aren't the end-all be-all, but everyone else seems to buy into the idea that a passing test score shows that you're ready for life.

Tests are one basic way for students to show what they know about a subject. No one says passing a test means you're ready for life but we need a way to find out if those involved learned enough so far. Tests are what schools use and teachers are the ones who structure the questions for a test, quiz, and decide what's good or not about papers and projects. Even with standardized tests (except the last one of the year or before students graduate) teachers can give other types of tests to include other ideas students may have learned. It's up to teachers in the end.

The reality is that any multiple choice test is only as good as the questions it askes, when they are asked, and the manner in which they are interpreted. We all know nationally normed tests are statistical tools that, when carefully used, can aid in strategic decision-making. What is missing is research consumer education - what does all this data really tell us? What does it tell parents looking for a new school? What does it tell me, as a teacher, about my practice? I mean, really? It is just a single data point that falls far short of any long range quality education, and it has us chasing our tails. We have fallen in to the trap of pursuing a solution (i.e. increasing scores) without really actually addressing the underlying causes of low achievement. Granted, the latter would reveal that in an age of mass customization, the factory model of public education does not work.

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