N.C. teacher: Test score says the year was a dismal failure for my student — but it really was ‘a resounding success’

By Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post

More than a third of U.S. states assign letter grades to schools based on various formulas that include to one extent or another standardized test scores. This post is about the effects of this policy on one student and teacher in North Carolina, where letter grades are given based entirely on testing data.

The author is Justin Parmenter, who teaches seventh-grade language arts at Waddell Language Academy in Charlotte. An educator for more than 20 years, he started his teaching career “believing that I was going to transform every child,” just as many first-year teachers do when they are placed in schools with high-needs populations. He says he quickly learned how complex teaching is.

Parmenter is a fellow with Hope Street Group’s North Carolina Teacher Voice Network. He started his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania and taught in Istanbul. He was a finalist for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Teacher of the Year in 2016, and you can find him on Twitter here.

He has written before for this blog, including a post in which he wrote about his evolution on thinking about using standardized test scores to evaluate students and schools, in which he said:

Standardized test measures show …. [a] negative correlation between socioeconomic status and test results. Educational psychologist David Berliner’s extensive work on the subject has found that out-of-school factors, including inadequate medical care, environmental pollutants, food insecurity, neighborhood characteristics, family relations and family stress, all play a large part in creating existing achievement gaps and limit what schools can accomplish on their own. Rather than holding our schools and teachers solely responsible for those gaps, he suggests we work to address inequalities rooted outside the schoolhouse.

Read more here.

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