According to a recent media report, the New York State Board of Regents is going to continue to rank schools using student performance as a criteria.
This is tantamount to ranking mothers. It is a useless endeavor that means nothing. Ranking a school essentially does nothing to improve student performance and just like giving a mother a ranking of 70 percent, would bring about the question of “so now what?” Those who would assign rankings to schools tend to rank and walk away.
While the new ranking plan indicates test scores alone should not be used to rank schools, it does just that by adding more test scores to the mix through including scores in science and social studies to the math and language arts tests currently being used. That move in and of itself underscores the fact that state Education Department officials see school improvement through the lens of every problem being a nail if one only has a hammer for a tool.
While the new plan speaks of incorporating student growth instead of just final scores into school performance measures, a small but encouraging step forward from former evaluation plans, too many questions are left unanswered.
The plan treats schools as if they exist in a vacuum, with no attention being given to the causes and treatment of poor student performance. Issues such as poverty, family stability, access to early education programs, health care, etc. all play a role in student performance, as do class size, availability of remediation and support services for students and families.
Most importantly, the concept of ranking schools in the name of improvement is odious at best. Those who would rank come up with a formula, assign a ranking and move on. Without delving into the daily happenings within a school this ranking is tantamount to those we would assign rankings to mothers … sort of shocking but meaningless when we ask the question: “So what now?”
Dr. John Metallo is a retired teacher and administrator. Among the positions he has held are principal of Albany High School and adjunct instructor at the University at Albany and SUNY Plattsburgh. He lives in Slingerlands and can be reached at 518-577-7530 or at firstname.lastname@example.org