It is that time of year when SBAC (The Common Core Test) is back in our lives. It measures Literacy and Math skills. Both very important aspects of a student's school life and beyond. Also, just a small part of what will make them successful adults and contributing community members.
It is important, and vital, that we understand how our schools are progressing in the areas of mathematics and literacy instruction. Our teachers work intensely to meet the needs of our vastly diverse population and provide progress and success for every student. You know what else our teachers work tirelessly at teaching each and every day? Creativity, social emotional wellbeing, character, resilience, mindset and 21st century skills.
I don't mind assessments. I love the data they can provide to assist educators in adjusting and improving their practice and instructional delivery. But schools, teachers, families, communities and the students they teach are vastly more complex and success is not so cut a drive as numbers based on Math and literacy proficiency. We need to measure the worth of a school community and the immensely hard work of teachers and staff, while understanding and measuring all the variables that contribute to our children's progress and growth.
The fact of the matter is, that when students don't score well on these standardized tests, it can diminish the worth of both children and the adults that support them throughout the school day and at home. When so much focus and significance is placed on these scores, it paints an incomplete picture. There is an achievement gap in this country. The gap does not only exist in literacy and math. Guess what? It exists in creativity, social emotional wellbeing, character, resilience, mindset and 21st century skills.
Until the test we use to measure students achievement combines both academics and these other important life skills, the achievement gap will persist. What the test results often do, is focus on the academic areas in terms of school improvement. For example, low math scores result in an increased focus on professional development and higher accountability on math scores. As a result what is neglected is; creativity, social emotional wellbeing, character, resilience, mindset and 21st century skills.
We really need to espouse a system of both teaching and assessing that considers the whole child and prompts improvement in all needed areas; and the resources to meet those needs. At IAA we are acutely aware of and continuously working on seeing the whole child and attempting to meet them where those needs dictate.
As the SBAC testing opens on March 15th this year I expect fully that many students will do well and we will improve over last year's scores. That being said, this test is a very small component of each students' educational experience and worth. This test provides an extremely narrow definition of student success and at IAA we take a more holistic approach; intentionally pairing our literacy and math proficiency with creativity, social emotional wellbeing, character, resilience, mindset and 21st century skills.
So in closing, yes let's take these tests seriously. Let us help students prepare for and take the SBAC without anxiety and fear. Let us also be certain to inform our children, that this is not a measure of their worth and that the results don't paint a picture of their ultimate potential. It's important to let our teachers know the same.
For More information, check out this great Washington Post Article highlighting the Vermont State Board of Education and Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe's view on SBAC.