It’s not about scores; it’s about success

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Education officials have been accused in recent years of putting too much emphasis on test scores, but McLaurin Elementary School Principal Karen Tutor believes those scores simply give her teachers and students benchmarks for making improvement.

Admittedly, the alphabet soup of the new accountability system under the federal No Child Left Behind Act is confusing. Schools are using MCTs and SATPs to achieve AYP.

What does it all mean?

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Boil it down to its most essential, and the accountability program provides each school a systematic way to achieve its goals &045; which percentages to hit, which skills to master.

Such a complicated system has the potential to take all the fun out of education, but the challenge for good teachers and good schools is to continue to find ways to make learning an adventure.

Schools have changed a great deal in recent years, just as society has changed. Discipline problems have taken on a life of their own, and teachers have to juggle several different roles along with their lesson plans.

And we’ve got to be realistic: No Natchez school right now scores at a Level 5, the highest in Mississippi. One, Robert Lewis Middle, did not meet its achievement goals last year.

But we can’t help but hope that a new accountability system can change that. The fundamentals of good education &045; and a little thinking outside the box &045; are the tools that really will drive improvement in area schools. In that context, it’s not about scores, it’s about success.

We’ll be watching as McLaurin and other Natchez-Adams Schools as they undergo the new process of this new accountability system.

A small plaque in Tutor’s office bears words that illustrate the goal: &uot;Is what I’m doing, or about to do, going to improve student achievement?&uot;

She and other administrators have their eye on the prize. We’ve just got to give them time to get there.