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Families and Teachers on Public School Rankings


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All parents want their children to receive a good-quality education and public school rankings are used as a tool to determine which schools are “best. " They may even make choices about which neighborhood to move their family into based on the public school rankings information available. This information can easily be found.

Public School Rankings and Quality of Education

Typically rankings are based on test score results. One could assume that the schools that place highly on rankings lists have the best teachers and those schools who fare poorly are unable to attract and retain good-quality staff members. While the latter statement may have some validity, students and parents also need to do their part.

A teacher may have great lesson plans that present information in an interesting way. If the students are not motivated to learn, for whatever reason, this fact will be reflected on test scores. Some individuals have even gone so far as to suggest that teachers be financially rewarded for high public school rankings. This could be a mistake.

Pressure to Achieve and High Rankings

All students have the right to learn and to be given the opportunity to achieve. Having school funding paid out on the basis of test scores and rankings puts a lot of pressure on both the students and the teachers to perform well on that one task. The concern here is that the testing will become the sole focus of the school curriculum. Teachers may be tempted to teach only what will be on the test and not take the time to explore anything else.

Will students who don't perform well be penalized for bringing the public school rankings down? One would assume that all students would try their best on Test Day, but if they can't or won't, why should that reflect on the teacher or the school itself? The teacher has done his or her job in exposing the students to the information; the students have a responsibility for what they choose to do with that knowledge.

We should want the next generation to get excited about learning for its’ own sake, not just to pass a standardized test. My fear is that if public school rankings are being used as the only criteria on which to base funding decisions or whether parents should send their children to a particular place of learning, we are being far too narrow in our view. Too many other factors, other than the skills and abilities of the teachers, go into standardized test results (and public school rankings).

When we think about rankings of schools, let's look at the big picture. The mark of a good school is based on more than just numbers.

Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U. S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit Public School Rankings


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