I learned yesterday that Indiana, along with a host of other states such as Kansas, Florida, Ohio, California, Colorado, Washington State, and Texas, have all waived the state test for this school year. Back on March 13, I know you all were seeking a waiver from the Governor to do the same. Let me make my case now, instead of canceling and waiving the test gives schools the option to take the test. I understand some schools would prefer to opt-out of testing this year, but there are other schools like mine who want to test who honestly need this test.
Allow me to the first say I am not trying to debate with anyone about the validity of the test and whether or not it tells the entire story about a school. It may not tell the whole story about a school and its performance, but it tells a pretty big piece. I have been at my school for four years as the Principal; there has been a lot of work put forth to improve the educational outcomes for the children in my school. Like most schools last year, we took a pretty big hit on the state exam. Our scores were terrible, and we came in this year motivated to improve those scores. We were embarrassed by the failing grade we received, and we were excited this year to improve the score. Yes, I understand the state passed an ILearn Hold Harmless Bill, which allowed schools to maintain their letter grade from 2017-2018 until the end of the 2019-2020 school year, but that does not negate the fact of how we did on the test last year.
This year was about redemption for our children, our teachers, and for me as a leader. We talked with our children all the time about barriers and how society puts them in front of our scholars to try and stop them from reaching their goals. We put an emphasis on driving home the importance of our teachers understanding the standards and ensuring they were teaching to the integrity of the curriculum. We spent money on training from consultant groups to help us improve the teaching practices to ensure our children would receive quality instruction day in and day out. We put a lot of pressure on our teachers, and we asked a lot of students and families. This test was our redemption to erase the sour taste of being rated a failure. The letter grade may not mean anything to some, but it means something to us. When people google your school, they see that letter grade. I believe we have a high performing school, and I tell my staff all the time we check every box of a high performing school except for the most important one.
Personally, as a principal, I want redemption as well. The work we put in this year has been different than any year previously. We have a group of students that we inherited a few years ago that were two to three grade levels behind, and we have worked year after year to get them caught up. I was ready to show everyone the magic that was happening at Tindley Summit. I was ready to be the first true “A” on the Far Eastside.
I make this plea to consider those schools like mine that want an opportunity to receive validation for the hard work we have put in. I propose pushing the test back to June or maybe even August, if school does return this session. Our school deserves to prove everyone wrong. Our school deserves to put a stamp on all the work we have put in this year. Our school deserves better than our current letter grade.
Please don’t take our opportunity away!