“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
“When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.” ~Chinese Proverb
Measuring Student Success
Ways to measure student success are widely debated, especially with public concern about over-relying on high stakes tests. I mentioned in my last letter that the annual PDK Gallop Poll revealed that respondents felt too much emphasis is given to standardized testing results instead of other measures, such as samples of student work, teacher-awarded grades, and written comments made by teachers.
So how do we assess student performance? The focus on educating students is on the whole child, not just developing expert test takers. Benjamin School District 25’s mission, to provide each child with the best educational opportunity to become a lifelong learner, achieve the highest personal growth and be a contributing member of society, drives this focus. Our staff gathers formal and informal data for each student’s academic, leadership, physical, and emotional performance. Based on the data, specific actions are taken to improve each child’s success so students do not “fall between the cracks.”
Ways that our faculty measure student growth include teacher-created assessments, portfolios, student performance tasks, informal assessments, common assessments, and formal assessments. More details about how we measure student growth can be found on our district’s website, www.bendist25.org, under the News Section on our homepage.
Another way to determine how effectively prepared our students are after graduating from eighth grade is to collect a wide range of information throughout the students’ high school careers. Areas that are measured include academic (examples: grades, course passing rates, ACT and advanced placement results), leadership, attendance rate, behavior, graduation rate, and extracurricular participation such as clubs, fine arts, athletics, and drama. Our students’ performance in these areas is noteworthy and results well-documented on our district’s website under the News Section on the homepage. These multiple measures are better indicators of how successful our students will be in college and careers, instead of focusing only on test scores.
Planning for the Future
What will the learning environment look like in 2020? How can our schools improve in the three areas of educational programming---technology; capital improvements/facilities; and safety and security---to ensure student success?
We are in the process of gathering input from students, faculty, parents, and community members to identify ways to make changes that will positively and proactively impact our students in the future. Our challenge is to plan for these modifications in a timely and fiscally responsible manner. Preliminary information was presented at the February 8 and March 14 school board meeting. The process and findings will continue to be communicated in a variety of ways. I welcome your ideas as we move forward with the planning process. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 630-876-7800.
Philip M. Ehrhardt, Ed.D.