News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Test scores present package of information on progress

Some college professors subject their students to a final exam and that's it.

That sounds good to students who had rather not bother with preparing for midterms, but they are at a serious disadvantage.

That one score offers professors or students no guideline for improvement before time runs out. Mid-term testing is for the benefit of the student as well as a way for professors to monitor how classes are going.

Theoretically students getting a "C" at midterm might study harder and a professor might teach differently for the remainder of the term.

With the federal No Child Left Behind program, today's high, middle and elementary school students, starting last year, get a series of tests that measure more than how a student does over a six-weeks period or a semester. The continuous testing follows students and schools year after year and allows for adjustments.

A report that came out last week showed 313 Title 1 schools still not meeting minimum scores. But that's an improvement over the 427 last year, the baseline for measuring progress.

Educators throw around a multitude of statistics and numbers in explaining where individual schools are on their journey toward excellence, showing which ones made progress, stayed the same or regressed.

Individual schools are evaluated on goals they set in reading, mathematics, attendance in elementary and middle schools and dropout rate for high schools.

The scores don't necessarily indicate which are the best schools, but they do put the spotlight on those that fall into the School Improvement category.

Area school systems scored well, but some schools must still show adequate improvement. But the problem here is the definition of adequate.

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