Mary Mélon: Taking a reasoned view of school report cards
December 16, 2019
There is so much more to the story than is seen by just looking at the scores on the recently released A-F school report card for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
That is not to say this data isn’t valuable. It is very important to track metrics and use them as a way to improve. It is clear that there is still much need for improvement in the key measurement areas of academic achievement, academic growth, growth in English language proficiency, post- secondary opportunities and graduation rates.
The question becomes one of what to do with this data.
There are education experts everywhere who are analyzing and pontificating about the data. Some are real experts and many are self-proclaimed experts. Some are lamenting that this is proof that public education is broken and others are quick to point out that the evaluation system is flawed.
Both are true to some degree, but it’s a matter of perspective.
School report cards have been touted across the country as ways to hold schools accountable and as dashboards to help families and the community understand the value a school offers. Critics say that these scores do not comprehensively articulate the learning going on in schools and that they ultimately could become a self-fulfilling prophecy for both decreased student achievement and property values of neighborhoods in low performing schools.
Again, both sides have valid points.
Beyond the endless back and forth about what side is right, this data should be taken for what it is: A snapshot from a moment in time, tracking valuable metrics.
It is a tool for educators, families and the community. Using it as the only judgment about where to send your children would be a shallow view. To fully understand a school and its culture, a personal visit, talking to parents and reviewing other data provides much additional and very important depth.
Educators and the community can use this tool as part of the evaluation, along with many other measures. Knowing where you are is a critical part of determining the plan to get where you want to be. Finding common ground and changing the narrative about public education is the only way to truly make progressive change for our kids.
Read Mary Mélon's entire Oklahoman editorial.