Lessons Learned From the Smarter Balanced Test Results

Dear Families,

The results of the new standardized test were released this week, accentuating a rather divisive conversation among educators, parents, and legislators. Headlines declare the results indicate 44% of graduates are not "college or career ready".

The NH Commissioner of Education went so far as to say the test results are not news; after all, using the results to measure success against Smarter Balance's predecessor - NECAP - is like comparing apples and oranges. The Board of Education is quick to state that these results are not surprising. Virginia Barry and the NH DOE classified the results as a "baseline". One commentator notes, "by treating the 2015 results as a baseline, the state DOE is effectively saying these scores have little to no impact for judging how well (or poorly) our schools and students performed. They are only going to use it as a point to measure future results." This is not uncommon practice in education, but again, there are deeper problems in play. Disagreements vary, but the real issue eludes most stakeholders and decision-makers.

No one would disagree with the idea that standardized tests cannot and do not provide a complete picture of student achievement.

But can the purpose of education really be reduced to preparing children for college or careers? Don't we want more for our children?

Standardized tests and educational reform movements are always evolving. Can children really thrive in an educational environment where change is more normal than stability?

We propose another ultimate educational objective: preparing children for sainthood. This means teaching children what it means to be human, because our work does not define us, even though careers give us an opportunity to co-create and work with God to accomplish His plan. College is but another formative experience preparing us, but it is a secondary goal. We are missing critical components in the conversation. The true vision of education must include greatness, excellence, selflessness, and love.

Ideas matter, and if ideological premises are flawed or incomplete, so too the whole endeavor. This point is shared by Catholic educators across the country.

This moment is but another occasion for us to mobilize and make ready for continued mission success at Mount Royal Academy.

Yours Truly In Christ,

Derek Tremblay