There are many issues in education that attract our attention, but I'm convinced that "the" issue of our time is that of assessment. Whether it's a question of ERB scores, SAT scores, AP scores, or the like, we as a society are focused intently on the notion of assessment.
We need to take a step back and ask ourselves and our communities: "What do we value, and why?" The follow-up question becomes, "How might we measure that?" In short, we would benefit from re-assessing assessment itself.
I'm not arguing for no assessment; I'm arguing for assessment that provides us with useful data that correlate with what we value as places of learning. We will need to identify a path for correlation so that the data make sense to our boards, our leadership team, our faculty, and our parents and students.
Many schools publish SAT scores, whether in the college guidance section of the website or elsewhere. Boards are keen to see the SAT data; one can imagine (or experience) the hand-wringing and finger-pointing when SAT scores decline by, let's say, 20 points (not percentage points, but pure points, i.e., from 610 to 590 on a given section).
Yet, let's consider the "value" of the SAT. What does it actually show us? What are the correlative data points? How does the SAT correspond to the values that we embrace in our schools? The SAT falls remarkably short on providing anything correlative to student success. The College Board has had to change the name twice because of the New York State Truth in Testing statute. It has nothing to do with aptitude, and it has nothing to do with achievement. Yet the fact remains: it is an important barometer; at least, it is perceived to be so. Perception does not equal reality, however.
For some time now, Pat Bassett has been a proponent of changing the college admission process; in other words, he would like to see colleges move away from the SAT. It's not a holistic assessment.
Have we considered (at the board level and at the faculty level) how we might propose measuring what we value in schools? What might that look like?