School safety and climate more important than test scores, new poll reveals
- In a new Berkeley IGS/EdSource poll of registered voters, California residents say that creating a safe and positive school environment is more important than standardized test scores, Ed Source reports.
- Voters were concerned primarily about bullying and cyberbullying, though they also felt more school resources should be directed to addressing the needs of homeless children and families threatened with deportation
- Most voters (57%) support the state’s current “multiple measure” approach to evaluating schools, which de-emphasizes test scores in favor of other measures ,such as graduation rates, safety and school discipline.
In many education circles, success is primarily measured by standardized achievement test scores, whether they be national or state assessments. The fate of students, teachers, administrators, schools and school districts often rise and fall by this measure, and producing good test results often becomes the end game of education.
However, in the wider societal context, this poll indicates that tests scores are not the most important consideration for many parents or voters. Though parts of this poll are more specific to California — the immigration question, for instance — the overall priorities for schools ring true across the nation. Earlier polls, for instance, reveal that concerns over school environment and safety are the main reasons parents leave public education for private schools or for homeschooling. Since bullying and cyberbullying now impact about 25% of students, this seems a valid concern.
Achievement test scores have their place in measuring academic success because they provide numerical data that is easy to compare. However, achievement tests do not tell the whole story when it comes to student success or teacher effectiveness. Studies show that grit—a combination of passion and perseverance—may be the stronger indicator of student success. Perhaps quantifying the “grit factor” for students and teachers could provide a better measure in the future.