This story is not about current classrooms and schools. Neither is this story about coercive accountability, unrealistic curriculum standards or the narrowness of highly-prized tests in judging district quality. This is a story well before Race to the Top, Adequate Yearly Progress, and “growth scores” entered educators’ vocabulary.
The story is about a district over 40 years ago that scored one point above comparable districts on a single test and what occurred as a result. There are two lessons buried in this story–yes, here’s the spoiler. First, public perceptions of standardized test scores as a marker of “success” in schooling has a long history of being far more powerful than observers have believed and, second, that the importance of students scoring well on key tests predates A Nation at Risk (1983), Comprehensive School Reform Act (1998), and No Child Left Behind (2002)
I was superintendent of the Arlington (VA) public…
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