Are test scores a good indicator of a school’s competence

The determination of a school’s competency ought to involve analyzing the performance and capabilities in different areas including academic performance, co-curricular activities, discipline, conduct and behavior of students, and school’s overall atmosphere (Jacob & Hartshorne 47). Test scores are one of the widely applied means of determining and rating the competency of schools. However, test scores are not good indicators of a school’s competency because they are not wholly inclusive of the factors that determine a school’s competency.

The use of test scores to indicate a school’s competency is eroding the innovation and morale of the teachers and instructors. Out of the preoccupation of performance measures in schools with test scores, teachers shift their energies and focus from delivering quality and innovative learning to approaches that are merely aimed at raising test scores (Diane 56). The students and teachers cannot design their own innovative learning methods that achieve the best for their schools. Rather, teachers are forced to just give out textbooks and encourage their students to memorize rather than comprehend the content (Diane 106). This arises since the teachers are increasingly under more pressure to increase the test scores, failure to which they are deemed to have failed in their teaching roles. The kind of comprehensive and passionate exploration of ideas that originally characterized classroom learning cannot thrive in an environment where emphasis is on attaining higher test scores. Test scores are, therefore, not good indicators of a school’s competency since higher test scores are not always indicative that students are getting the best out of the system.

The use of test scores for determination of a school’s competency does more harm to the students’ learning – it prevents effective learning. Test scores only encourage students to memorize even the basic facts and skills. Glorification of test score system, in general, occurs in tandem with an approach of instruction that applies carrot-and-stick mechanism to ensure that students attain higher scores (Jacob & Hartshorne, 67). In other circumstances, the application of test scores shows no specific validation of an effective teaching approach, but rather an ambiguous need to keep schools answerable in an environment where there are limited alternative to monitor school’s performance (Jacob & Hartshorne, 67). Continued preoccupation with test scores thus dissuades stakeholders from searching for better methods that evaluate students’ capabilities beyond those presented in theoretical instructions.

In business world, the inefficacy of test scores to impact necessary skills has been vindicated by the performance of their graduates. For instance, evaluating characteristics of CEOs regarded to have had a great impact over their careers, Mintzberg and Lampel noted that individuals without managerial education featured prominently (1). On the opposite end, CEOs regarded to have failed, individuals who had graduated from elite business schools with stellar performances featured prominently (Mintzberg and Lampel 1). Such failure of business schools to impact relevant knowledge that enables their graduates to be effective in the dynamic business environment has been attributed to the theoretical teaching approach employed in schools (Elliot, Goodwin and Goodwin 96). Such theoretical approach could be an outcome of preoccupation with a test score-based performance evaluation.

Test scores do not offer a comprehensive indicator of a school’s competency since it fails to recognize students’ capabilities beyond the theories taught in class. The preoccupation with test scores also impedes effective learning since it does not motivate instructors to employ innovative approaches to teaching, rather, encourages the culture of rote learning.   When instructors and learners are forced to center singly on what is quantifiable, for instance the sum of grammatical mistakes in an essay or the total number of capital cities of various countries, the learning process fails to impart relevant skills necessary to develop innovative solutions for modern-day challenges.

Works Cited

Elliott, Clifford J., Jack S. Goodwin and James C. Goodwin. “MBA Programs and the Business Needs: Is There a Mismatch? Business Horizons, July-August (1994): 55-60. Print

Jacob, Susan and Timothy Hartshorne. Ethics and Law for School Psychologists. 4th Ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 2003. Print

Mintzberg, Henry and Joseph Lampel. “Do MBAs make better CEOs? Sorry, Dubya, It ain’t necessarily so.” Fortune Magazine, 19 Feb. 2001. Web. 12 Oct. 2011.

Ravitch, Diane. The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2010. Print.

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