High test scores don't make positive change in the world

Last week, I attended my first PTO meeting as a parent. If, as an educator, I think parental involvement is key to a successful student, I figured I should walk the walk as a parent as well. During the meeting, the principal shared all of the wonderful state testing results the school had: 1st in their array (similar SES schools in the district) in this, 2nd in this, above state and district averages in this. Swell. The principal mentioned numerous times that this was "only one piece of the puzzle." But what wasn't mentioned? Those other pieces of the puzzle. What are they? What is my son's school doing to excel at those parts of the puzzle? In the principal's defense, maybe she knew that's what parents cared about. I was embarrassed to hear more than one "yes" from parents as scores were read. Congrats to the kids for their hard work, absolutely, but at the end of the day...so what? How did those test scores make them a better human being? Is society better because your kids' grade level scored 85% proficient on their 5th grade math assessment? I realize this isn't a new insight, but I was taken aback at some of the parents' reactions. Maybe at the October meeting we will talk about the other pieces - and I'll finish that "glad I can eat crow" blog post immediately after the meeting. High test scores didn't affect how my kid treated others today. High test scores don't make positive change in the world. Critically thinking, compassionate people do. Let's talk more about that puzzle piece.

Update Sept 10 - I finally got a chance to watch Scott McCleod's TEDx Des Moines talk entitled "Extracurricular Empowerment." As Scott is known to do, his talk was amazing. He talks about those "other pieces of the puzzle" that I mentioned above and what kids can do when we let them. He's got some great examples of kids that are making the world a better placeā€¦but not because of their test scores. Take 8 minutes and watch this: http://youtu.be/GyIl4y_MRbU