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Parents, view standardized tests with caution

We wrote recently that we have concerns about the value of standardized tests.

We understand the need to hold schools accountable and it’s important for parents to track the progress of their children’s school, but standardized tests should be taken with grains of salt. Some students, after all, can be very bright and earn straight A’s but perform terribly on tests.

This year, it’s more important than ever for parents to use test results cautiously.

First off, the state and federal government still haven’t settled on what kinds of tests students should take this year, whether all schools will administer the same test, or which students should take the test — should students learning remotely, for example, take a standardized test?

That confusion alone should give parents pause.

But added to that are a whole slew of factors during the coronavirus pandemic that can make it hard for students to perform well academically. Maybe a loved one was infected or died. Maybe one or both parents lost their job. Maybe they haven’t been able to see that supportive friend that helped them cope with their stressful home life.

In short, it’s reasonable to expect students to perform uncharacteristically poorly on any test this year, so whatever tests are given won’t mean much in terms of tracking how well our schools are doing compared to previous years.

In addition, the situation is different from school to school. Some communities have been harder hit by the pandemic, some schools are learning entirely online while others have some sort of mix of online and in-person learning. That and other issues make it unfair to compare one school’s test results to those of another — especially if those two schools administer different tests.

So, please, parents, look at test results this year cautiously, and don’t judge any school or student too roughly based on those results.

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