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Let’s talk about our schools’ achievements


Imagine with me for a moment, that you are applying for a new job. But instead of a robust resume and a list of personal references, you can only submit your name and a number between 1 and 10, with “1” being the worst and “10” the best. All hiring determinations will be based solely on this number, which by the way, was your assessment rating from the tests you took on the first day of work in August of 2016.

Sounds unfair, right? Yet this single number rating is the main resource parents use when deciding where to live and which school to send their children to.

What goes into the ratings?

Ratings are based on the 2016 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Simply put, it is a test of the students’ knowledge and skills in Math and English Language at one point in time. The data is processed, compared to other schools in the same category and then ranked. The school rating information was last updated August 2016.

What about the students who are learning English as a second language?

The ESL (English Second Language) students are included in the assessment without additional consideration. It is easy to draw a comparison with student ethnicity and school ratings. Remember that this is a point in time test, not a prolonged development assessment. It is easy to understand why students who are new to the American education system will not score as well as students who were born and raised here.

Is the CAASPP Rating a good way to determine the best schools?

If all things were equal, then yes it would be! However, each student has a unique past that brought them to that one point in time when the assessment test was administered. They were not all equally prepared and will naturally score differently.

What doesn’t the rating tell us?

It does not tell you how well students are progressing. It does not tell you that the teachers are well trained educators who genuinely care about your child’s wellbeing. It does not tell you about the school’s unique award winning programs. It does not tell you that being a part of your child’s education is the biggest determining factor to their success.

It was said recently that we need to improve our schools. Yes, every school principal would like to have a perfect “10” rating. However, I believe the conversation should be about the unique programs, opportunities, career and college readiness that our schools ARE achieving.

* * * 

Rorie Johnston is CEO of the

Escondido Chamber of Commerce.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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