Why Statewide Assessments Matter: Parents Need to Know How Their Children Are Doing
As a mom of three children, I make lots of decisions every day about how to support their individual needs. I’m involved in my children’s education and engage regularly with their teachers. But sometimes that’s not enough. Parents need data and information to inform the choices that we make on our children’s behalf.
One source of information that is important to me is data from the tests my children take at school, including the statewide assessments they are taking this spring. While I understand that a single test won’t show all the wonderful things my child knows how to do, tests can provide key information that can lead to my children having access to all the opportunities and resources they need and deserve. As my eldest son goes through elementary school, he has taken several tests, and was even placed in an Advance Program, a program that provides students with enrichment experiences that train them to apply their learning creatively and productively. My son understands the importance of practicing for and taking tests. He loves to set goals and reach or beat them each year. He says he wants to do well on the tests so he can learn as much as possible to get a great education that will lead to college and beyond. There are many young students like my son who want to succeed. Their only limitations are their imagination.
Unfortunately, not all students have the same opportunities in their schools. And many are held back by gaps in their learning. It’s important that Kentucky administers statewide assessments, especially as we continue to identify and make plans to address unfinished learning in schools. While teachers can and do identify learning gaps through coursework and exams, our education system needs statewide data to identify when districts, schools, or groups of students need additional support to meet their potential. Without data from assessments, students can’t get the resources they need to remain on track, accelerate, or make up for lost learning time both prior to and since the pandemic.
As my children age and continue to take statewide assessments, I will want to learn whether they are on track to graduate, ready for college or a career, and how their performance of students at their school compares with performance at other schools in Kentucky. Are there gaps between groups across the district or within the state? What are state and district leaders doing to support these students and close gaps?
Every student deserves a great education. Assessments allow us to find and address learning gaps both for groups of students as well as individual students. Assessments ensure that our education system is effectively serving all students.
Jerusha Caple is a parent in Kentucky and a member of the Louisville Mom Collective.