Our children are more than test scores

Dear Godfrey-Lee Community:

Earlier this week, the State of Michigan released the M-STEP test results that our children in grades 3 through 8 and 11 completed last spring. We were excited to see the 11th grade English language arts proficiency rate exceeded the statewide average, as well as the 8th grade proficiency rate that came very near the statewide average. The overall percentage of students who tested proficient in English language arts increases at each grade level from 3rd through the 11th grade, which highlights the fact our older students have had more exposure to the new Common Core curriculum adopted by the state several years ago. Science and social studies scores also demonstrated a positive trend.

Your school principal as well as your child’s teacher can share his or her scores with you but you can check out our school and grade-level scores at http://www.mischooldata.org. All students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 completed the math and English language arts tests, while students in grades 5, 8 and 11 also took the social studies test and students in grades 4, 7 and 11 completed the science test. The scores provide us with a new baseline to begin making some modifications to our curriculum, teaching, and learning practices in the coming months. Students will take these tests again this coming spring (although the state will make changes to the test that will make it difficult to compare last year to this year) and each year thereafter.

It is important to remember that your child’s learning, abilities and strengths cannot be reduced to a simple test score taken once each year. In fact, I find it insulting to think that students can be evaluated and ranked solely on a single test score. Our children are much more than test scores! Most of what your child learns in school and the vast majority of learning activities he or she participates in are not measurable by a computer-scored test. While reading, writing and math are important, the most crucial lessons your child learns that will have an impact on the future are what we term “the 5-Cs:” Communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and caring for others as well as themselves. These skills are what colleges and employers look for in 21st century degree programs and careers. They also provide your child with the solid foundation needed for lifelong learning, raising a family, and civic engagement within their communities.

Education reform since 2001 has been steering schools in the wrong direction, with politicians and policymakers, who do not necessarily understand the purpose and complexity of the learning process, at the helm. That is why we have taken on a challenge at Godfrey-Lee to fully evaluate our system and programs from a human-centered design approach (we call it HCD21), with the goal of identifying what is most important for the future success of our children and how we can reshape and redesign our classrooms, schools and learning systems to meet their needs. In the end, the least of our concerns is what’s being measured by superficial and largely inaccurate tests such as the M-STEP, the ACT, or the SAT. We’ll continue to evaluate our students holistically based on their growth in learning across content, the arts, physical education, health, world languages, technology and the critical 5-Cs mentioned above.

I look forward to a continuing partnership with the entire Godfrey-Lee community in this journey.

Sincerely,

David Britten, Superintendent

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About David Britten

Retired U.S. Army Officer, former elementary, middle and high school principal, currently serving as a public school superintendent.
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