One of the highlights of my days while I have been on medical leave is when my son, Griffin walks in the door from school. Normally I would be finishing my day at work. He comes in the house excited from his day. Typically he shares about learning in his classes and asks me questions for more information. Then we move to small talk about Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons before he settles in with a snack while doing homework. After that is done, he typically relaxes by watching “Chopped” on the cooking channel, since he has a passion for food. Tuesday was different, the door opened quietly something was different. Griffin had a scowl on his face, dropped his school bag on the kitchen table, ripped papers out to hand to me. Without words he marched over to hand me these papers from school, he almost had tears in his eyes. “HERE” he said, placing them upside down in my hand and rushed away. Was he in trouble? What could these papers say that made him so upset? As I turned the paper over, I realized he was upset with his NWEA MAP scores. Only one of the four test scores had shown growth. Should he be upset? Should I?
Griffin has loved school since he started, even with his struggles. Griffin has apraxia, he didn’t talk until 4 years old. He can’t sound out words. He has always been a struggling reader. Since kindergarten he has been marked below grade level as a reader. He has been tutored and memorizes words so he can read. His memory is incredible. Since he could talk he could give directions to a house, park or store after only going their once. Griffin works incredibly hard to make up for his disability. He has a passion for science and geography. This year as a sixth grader he won the school geography bee beating out seventh and eight grades. He competed on the school’s science olympics team, winning medals at the county tournament each of the past 4 years. He is a Boy Scout. He plays baseball and basketball. I have coached him in basketball since 2nd grade. His first year he scored 2 points, this year he lead his team in scoring as they cruised to an undefeated season. This is a chid who has grown. He has grown physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially. He is more than a score!! Should he be upset about the scores?
I was concerned. Was Griffin doing enough? Would he be ready for a career when done with school? (and I am a teacher just wonder what non-teachers ask?)
Last night Griffin walked in with a smile again, handing me an envelope, his report card. All A’s with outstanding marks for citizenship. Totally different emotion than the MAP test. Grades actually reflect Griffin’s learning efforts based upon teaching. MAP tests are normalized, knowledge based questions that might never have been taught. Which is more valuable? Griffin’s class grades are based on a standardized grading system that he has to score an 85% to meet the standard (A) or he can reassess until he does meet the standard. Not meeting the standard leads to an F. This system has it flaws but stresses student learning. Griffin has worked hard, reassessed when he failed to meet the standard, receiving A’s all year. Does this mean more than the MAP score?
I hated seeing my son arrive home crying about school. Is MAP testing hurting him? Do students who perform well on this test go on to live better lives with better jobs? Is having a low score going to hurt Griffin? He has already been offered “help” classes to take the place of his electives. On the advice of teachers, we have declined, not wanting take way quality experiences for Griffin. He gets to enjoy Band, Tech Ed, Spanish, Health, and Gym instead. Should students miss opportunities to boost their test scores? Might that turn them off to learning even more?
Schools need to be careful how we use tests and scores. We need to look at the WHOLE child, not just this little knowledge snap shot.
Careers are more than scores, GRIFFIN and every child is more than a test score!!