All Students Feel the Effects of Trying to Meet a Higher Standard

Jay Matthews:

What that advice overlooks is that when a school is in danger of not meeting the AYP standards, all students in the school are affected, not just those who are in danger of failing the test. Last year at our neighborhood elementary school in Silver Spring, the principal said there was a real chance the school would not meet the standard. Consequently, the entire focus of the school was on the Maryland School Assessment tests. For example:
All the students at the school, even kindergartners, were drilled on how to answer “brief constructed responses” (short written answers to essay questions), because they are an important part of the MSA. My son was in second grade last year and did not even take the assessment tests, but BCRs came home regularly in his backpack.
The focus of the leadership meetings in the school is on the MSA. I’m active in the school and attended one of those leadership meetings last year, and know from other parents who attended other meetings that most of the discussion at those meetings is on the MSA and what the school needs do to ensure it will make AYP.