Letter: ‘Test score roller coaster’ hits principal

October 6, 2007


Today, a teacher from Fresno County, California, told me that he had been a principal but had been sent back to the classroom because of low test scores in his school.

What he thought was ironic about the story was that four years before the low scores, he had received a $10,000 performance bonus from the State of California for improving scores at his school.

As a new principal, he had noticed that most students did not finish all items on the state test. So he directed teachers to tell students, two minutes before the end of the testing session, to choose a letter and bubble in all remaining answers with that letter. Voila! Improved scores, which the politicians could trumpet as evidence that “increased accountability” is “working.”

Obviously, none of these short-term strategies truly improve student learning. Nor can they result ultimately in all students being labeled “Proficient” by the year 2014 or any other year. But they are the all-too-predictable result of a system that emphasizes test scores over any other outcomes.

George Sheridan

Garden Valley, CA


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