I was attempting to have a conversation with my adult education students about the recent release of test scores, but then I realized this would be quite complex. The majority of my students, who are also parents, had no clue test scores had been released. Although scores have only been released to schools, I was surprised parents didn’t know because this means they might miss when they are eventually available to them too.
I can’t say that I was fully surprised, however, I wanted to be. I wanted the conversation to be engaging and a worthwhile dialogue between the parents and me guiding the discussion as needed. For the next few minutes, I found myself explaining what the “new test” is, what the “new test” replaced and what the “new test” displays as it relates to student learning and school performance.
Educational advocacy groups, school district, and community leaders have talked before about the state of schools in the city of Memphis across the state of Tennessee and more specifically in Frayser where my Adult Education class is located. Most of my students, if not all, live right in the community, where 12 of its 14 schools were deemed failing and/or low-performing about five or so years ago which ushered in the presence of the newly created state-run school district-the Achievement School District.
This explanation, though quite frustrating to give at such a critical time when I am really trying to discuss test scores, took me back to my days working at the Achievement School District and then later with the Black Alliance for Educational Options, where a large part of my role included just this - explaining the educational landscape to parents.
The topic of test scores was the writing assignment for the day, but I had to give background first so they could complete the assignment. My adult students had no idea about the TN Ready, when it had been administered and the fact that scores had now been released. I didn’t have time to allow my mind to wonder about “who’s to blame” and/or question “why didn’t these people know, “ without just being immediately baffled by these “parents still do not know!”
My intention was to write this blog around the release of the test scores, but I was taken aback that I am attempting to have a conversation about a topic that these parents in my classroom knew nothing about.
At this point, I needed a projector and a full data report. One parent asked me, “Where they could find this information?” That was encouraging. Another looked at me puzzled while asking, “Is this real?” I had to nod my head and politely say, “Yes!” Somehow the conversation took a major turn. A male parent asked one of the million-dollar questions, “So, what’s the point of the test scores?”
Ahhhh…now I really don’t have that much time or space to write out what took place in my classroom for the next twenty or so minutes in my classroom, but the conversation eventually drifted into school to prison pipeline and the per-pupil expenditures in relation to the amount of funding per inmate. Despite what may seem as broad topics, it made perfect sense for my community of learners. They know all too well the realities of how prison sentences affect families, how a failing educational system affects futures and how inequities in the system isn’t doing much to elevate the poorest in our city.
Needless to say, we did get around to discussing the release of the test scores briefly. In short, our schools have a great road ahead as we attempt to first, build up the confidence of our students and second, ensure we are adequately preparing them not just for the test but to show proficiency in learning.
I guess it’s only right that I end this blog with a call to action. For each parent that does not know, ….Breaking News: Test scores have been released. Parents, Do you know?