Responding to a comment yesterday I wrote about standardized test scores at Nuestro Mundo, “everyone involved with NMI should be alarmed and ashamed by the performance of poor, Hispanic and ELL students.” In doing so I fell into the trap of employing shame as an educational tool.
I still believe that the scores at Nuestro Mundo are cause for alarm.
Standardized test scores are of limited utility in judging the quality of a school or assessing educational experiences, but they aren’t of no use. I think of test scores as one tool that can indicate some success or call attention to problems. Most of the time fair, good or even great test scores don’t tell us much but “proceed with caution,” (because caution is always in order when dealing with kid’s futures). Sometimes the test scores tell us to slow down and pay attention, look for what is going wrong and for ways to fix it. I believe that the results of Nuestro Mundo fall into this category.
On a related topic of using educational statistics, see Sherman Dorn’s recent post “Grokking Social Science Statistics” (well worth reading).
Thomas J. Mertz