We Can all Come to the Same Revelation About High Stakes Testing; We Wish it Happened less.

High Stakes Testing.

We can all come to the same revelation about high stakes testing; we wish it happened less. To the contrary, high stakes testing drives another narrative that folks don’t want to focus on, and that’s teacher accountability. If a teacher has a student all year, there should be the expectation that the child should be able to show what they have learned.

One way, but not the only way to measure student growth is through standardized testing.

Standardized Testing.

Those against standardized testing can give you a myriad of reasons as to why they take that position. Some of the arguments that I have heard are, 1) You can’t measure the impact of a students home life through testing. 2) Teachers should not be held accountable for student learning. 3) The tests are too hard. 4) The tests are culturally biased. 5) There’s not enough recess and playtime in the curriculum. 6) We are creating robots with all of the test prep. 7) These kids are low. And the list goes on.

Those that support standardized testing have their reason as well. Some of the arguments that I have heard in defense of ST’s are, 1) You can use the student data to remediate. 2) Data-informed conversations are more comfortable conversations to have with parents. 3) Teachers and Administrators can be held accountable for student growth. 4) ST’s give a comparative analysis to other students. 5) ST’s promote a growth mindset.


Parents are on Their Own.

Moreover, my colleague Dr. Cole reminds us once a week that parents are on their own. Additionally, when I think about the belief gap that exists between educators and families, I’m starting to believe that he’s right. But I’m not there just yet; I’m still optimistic that we can make progress through smart partnerships with parents.

NY State recently released its 2018-19 test scores in ELA and Math. This time of year, every charter school in NY State is on eggshells. Charter schools in NY State are first compared with the sending school district. The sending school district is the location where the charter school operates.

After examining the results against the area, analysts then compare the results against other charter schools.

Riverhead Charter School.

My school is the Riverhead Charter School, a K-8 charter school located in Suffolk County on Long Island, NY. We were recently granted an extension to our charter, allowing us to go up to Grade 12. Next year will be the first year for our freshmen. They are our current 8th-grade class.

As a scholar-practitioner, I realize that there are many different ways to frame data. For this blog post, and those wondering– My primary concern is how our students perform in 8th grade. The goal is to have every student performing at levels of proficiency by Grade 8.

Our 8th graders are performing on levels comparable to the highest achieving school districts in the state. We have come a long way as a school.

Growth Mindset.

2012-13 our schools were abysmal. I’m talking 11% in 3rd Grade Math, 11% in 3rd grade ELA.

In 2018-19, things looked way different for us.  Our kids are performing at 70+% in Math, and mid 80% in ELA.

These scores didn’t just happen overnight, and they didn’t come without heartache, pain, lawsuits, and people questioning my integrity and my ability to do right by all students.  Still I Rise!

Digging In.

You have to dig in for what you believe. If you think kids can learn, it is not enough to think kids can learn. Folks from the outside looking in don’t care what you think. They want to see that you have the ability to stand and deliver. Deliverance, in this case, is offering an alternative to traditional public schools that have failed families.

We still have a ton of work to do to reach the success levels of Success and Icahn, but right now, we are going to celebrate our students and families and their accomplishments. It is hard work being a stand-alone charter school. CMO’s can pool and share resources. Independent charters genuinely have to do more with less. I’m excited that we are in a position to continue to do this work for children.

Author: Raymond J. Ankrum, Sr.

Mr. Ankrum is the current Superintendent of the Riverhead Charter School. Mr. Ankrum has gained notoriety as a school turnaround expert. He is enthusiastic about helping students from low (SES) find ways to end generational poverty through educational advocacy. If you believe PoC can end generational poverty by exercising educational opportunities, you have an ally in @Mr_Ankrum.

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