Excellent Test Scores—For What They Are Worth

Recently, we received the annual standardized test scores for our Mission Viejo Campus: we are happy to report that as a school, we scored in the top 10% nationwide. Our 3rd graders scored in the top 2%!

As a private school, we are not required to participate in standardized testing. We also don’t believe that these types of tests are very meaningful: like most assessments, they focus on basic skills in mathematics and language arts only. The questions test rote memorization and blind process repetition, rather than real understanding and broader skills. In contrast to many public schools and charter schools, we don’t spend much classroom time on tedious test preparation exercises. Instead, we teach real, meaningful content and skills. But, apparently, our approach pays off even on such multiple-choice tests.

Why do we have our students take these tests at all? Two reasons: first, because of society’s focus on standardized testing, our students have to learn to take tests like these—think ACT or SAT tests required by many colleges. Participating in annual testing allows our students to get some practice, and as we don’t spend much time preparing, they don’t lose much. Second, many parents do look to test scores to select a school. While we don’t think that’s a valid standard, we need to ensure that they don’t screen out our school, just because test scores are not available.

With that as context, I do want to say “Congratulations” to our amazing students: you did wonderfully—because you worked hard at learning real skills and knowledge. You should be excited about learning so much, and keep up the good work!

Ray Girn