Testing as a Team Sport

Having the school declare a test score goal is a way to ensure students understand the emphasis on doing well on standardized tests.  Ideas like posting test results publicly and having students make and display “green” handprints and/or giving them out green colored t-shirts when they score proficient or better all reinforce the goal of raising test scores.  The high visibility of students who score proficient or better is great positive reinforcement and incentive.

However, all the students who are not proficient or better not only get left out but also are to some extent at risk of pressure or stigma.  This would be true normally, kids being the occasionally schoolyard meanies they can be.  But it might be particularly true when there is a stated school goal.  Kids who aren’t scoring proficient are, in one way of looking at it, pulling down the rest of the team.  I’m not saying it’s the right way, but the school I am involved with takes great care to treat as private individual results.  I do wonder at the difference in philosophies and which might be used to get students to learn more effectively and successfully. 

Clearly, posting results gives more urgency (and transparency) to success.  It also puts more demands on the school culture to support every child in their educational journey.  Also, it seems pretty logical that if a school was going this way (“green team,” et al), it might also set up study teams and remediation (perhaps students tutored by other students, as well as more conventional means) to support the effort.  Likewise, one could imagine the school being divided into teams (possibly multiage) to compete internally for best performance.  This would fit naturally and do more to achieve the goals than simply posting school goals.

I’d like to know more about the pros and cons of making results public but, in general, I like the idea of making test solid performance a school goal and supporting that goal with student-friendly learning solutions.

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