Good Test Scores or Good Instruction?

I think many individuals look at test scores to determine and "judge" whether or not a school is doing a good job. This practice has been pretty well established as both a norm and also acceptable within our own society as a whole. This is reflective of state legislators supporting funding and mandates for testing at the state and federal levels.

While many educators have issues with this judgment from testing being subjective for a variety of reasons, I have also reached the conclusion that simply establishing this isn't a fair or good practice is also missing the larger point.

There is plenty of research that has indicated what is and what is not good instructional strategies. The work of individuals such as Marzano has objectively established what practices will result in student achievement. We as educators know what we should and should not be doing.

I make this point to then ask the question - Why are schools proud of test scores, but not necessarily proud of their instructional strategies?

I have never personally seen a school advertise on their website that they only utilize best practice instructional strategies, but I have certainly seen schools advertise their arbitrary standardized test scores. I am starting to believe this lack of correct emphasis is not only part of the problem, but reflective of a core value that needs to shift within all educators as a whole.

I have seen so many educators make comments in a variety of settings that they wish there was not the emphasis and inaccurate correlation of how well a school is doing with standardized test scores. However, no one has been able to discover the manner in which to make this shift occur. Perhaps, this could happen if all educators saw the value of only utilizing best practices, but then proudly claiming that they only do so.

Individuals that work within education understand the fallacy of defining a school based on a test, but an individual outside of education simply may not. Since we as public educators are not advertising good instruction as being paramount, maybe this is part of the reason individuals outside of education see test scores as the prominent defining variable instead.


About the Author

Dr. Sutton is a veteran educator and a current district superintendent. His passion and background align best with middle school grade levels and instructional best practices.


My book Make Professional Development Matter is meant to be a guide for educators to ensure professional learning aligns with improving instruction. I share past experiences that support and create my core values as an educator, and the research that correlates to them.


Twitter - @DrNickSutton

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