School rankings based only on the results of standardized tests don’t give students, teachers, administrators, or parents the whole story about how well the school in question is meeting the needs of their students. We all want to make sure that students are performing well. If they aren’t then steps should be taken to help the students improve; however, rankings don’t provide enough information to conclude that schools are accomplishing this goal or not.
School Rankings Should Include Student Backgrounds
Since the standardized tests only provide a snapshot of how a student performed when the testing was being conducted, why is it being used as the basis for rating or ranking schools? We all want and need to know that students are being given every opportunity to get a quality education, and rankings based on test scores don’t really show improvement in student performance over the entire year.
Instead of basing rankings on the results of standardized tests alone, include some information about the student’s background into the mix. Other factors, such as the parents’ income and educational levels, do play a part in how well their children perform in school. Whether the students are being taught in their first language also makes a difference in their performance in school, so that should be part of the information gathered when we are looking at school rankings.
If a family moves a lot, either from school to school or district to district, that may play a role in how well students perform at school. Whether parents are able to get (and keep) steady jobs is also a factor, and school rankings that only look at the students’ performance on standardized tests are missing these vital pieces of information.
Look at How Well Schools Serve Student Needs, Not Just School Rankings
A better way to get meaningful school rankings is to look at how well schools meet the needs of their students. When the socioeconomic factors are included, then we get a better picture of which schools really should be ranked high on the list. Then we can examine what strategies those successful schools are using to improve the learning experience for all students.
With so much emphasis being given to school rankings, some schools are encouraging parents to keep children at home when the tests are being conducted. This practice is being done in cases where there is concern about a student not performing well, and affecting the school ranking for their particular school. School should be about much more than test results and which kids can help to keep their schools at or near the top. It’s supposed to be about learning and I am afraid we lost track of that idea somewhere along the way.