Accountability Needed to Improve Test Scores

Mia Jay, Staff Writer

California student standardized test scores have been in decline in recent years, inaccurately representing the state’s educational standing because students don’t try on a test that doesn’t release individual scores and has no impact on graduation or college acceptance.

California should publish the Smarter Balance Assessment Test scores of each student in order to motivate them to perform at their best, and thus, demonstrate that the instruction they are receiving from the state’s hard-working teachers, is outstanding.

According to The New York Times, the decline was excused at first because of California’s transition to the new test format. However, even after teachers have adjusted their strategies for preparing students, scores have failed to improve.

Everyone in the Moraga School District has taken standardized tests since elementary school, but while the standards and the tests themselves have changed, and teachers have strived to adapt their methods in order to best prepare their students, one thing has stayed the same. The scores of these tests have no impact on students’ grades. California has low test scores because students don’t care. If the scores of these tests have no impact on those taking them, how can we motivate students to put forth their best effort when they take them?

According to The San Diego Union Tribune, California had 12% fewer students that met or exceeded the test average in English, and 22% less in Math.

Right now, students in California are inaccurately representing the quality of their instruction by choosing not to care, not t0 prepare and not to put forth their best effort.

Students who blow off these exams are doing a disservice to the competent teachers who sacrifice so much for them.   

If California really wants to raise test scores, more emphasis should be placed on the results. Studying for the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests should be required in schools, not a mere suggestion. It is important that students are held accountable for their performance in an immediate, concrete way, like publishing the results and including them in student transcripts.  Districts should also consider making performance on this exam a part of graduation requirements.

Many people move to areas in California such as Lamorinda because they believe in the excellence of our school systems. We need to prove that those beliefs are well founded and motivate students to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment seriously.