The current paper examines the impact of standardized testing on schools. In particular, key attention is paid to the evaluation of the activities of Harriett Tubman Elementary 2861 Lakeshore Dr. College Park, GA 30337. The influence of school accountability on school climate will be assessed. On this basis, ultimate conclusions will be formulated.
Nowadays, schools are not subject to obligatory standardized tests that are required by NCLB. Although Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is not obligatory as well, the majority of schools are still heavily affected by the use of different standardized tests. These assessments allow determining the strengths and weaknesses of a given school in comparison with other educational establishments. As all standardized procedures are supposed to be objective, they provide the rationale for the deep analysis of the US education. Harriett Tubman Elementary School takes into account those assessments that are determined by the Georgia Department of Education. The main indicator used by the Department is the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) (Georgia Department of Education, 2014). This index aims at continual improvement of school activities; it is recommended for the analysis of all public schools in Georgia. This assessment seems to be the most important under current conditions.
The emphasis on this assessment directly impacts instructional decisions. All school systems have Accountability Specialists that represent the interests of both the State Educational Agency (SEA) and the Local Education Agency (LEA). They provide the necessary assistance in relation to all forms of accountability. The interpretation of reports is one of the main areas of interest in this context. As the accountability system that is implemented in Georgia is comparatively complex, these specialists may help to understand all key aspects at the local level. Thus, all schools have to organize their programs in accordance with these requirements. Moreover, the direction of possible reforms is also determined by the results that are demonstrated by the given school.
Previously, the effectiveness of Harriett Tubman Elementary School was primarily determined by AYP while at the present moment, the CCRPI is used. The school has a long history of implementing AYP in its practices. On this basis, the grade levels were determined, and their dynamics was evaluated. The school traditionally has comparatively strong positions at the local level. However, AYP is very mechanistic by its nature and pay adequate attention to the quality of learning while mainly concentrating on the quantitative perspective. The CCRPI seems to be a more developed indicator in this context as it takes into consideration a large variety of relevant factors.
With the help of the CCRPI, it is possible to determine main strengths and weaknesses of the school. One of the major strengths of the school refers to the optimal balance between the experienced and novice teachers; it leads to efficient learning process as well as to a significant amount of innovations. The parent’s support base is substantial that is indicated by LSAC, PTA, etc. The competitive advantages of the school refer to the use of exemplars, i.e. complex mathematical problems that require creativity and well-developed calculation skills. Extended Day and Primetime Afterschool Programs provide additional support for those children who have some special needs (Fulton County Schools, 2012).
However, some weaknesses are also present in the school. In particular, higher differentiation of programs in mathematics, reading, and writing is needed. New strategies should be implemented to ensure higher accountability of the school’s operations in all key areas. Professional development in the field of Instructional Technology should be encouraged as other schools have stronger positions in this regard. Additional resources should be directed at generating science achievements and social studies as the school should be oriented on the latest achievements and research in this sphere. Higher support should be provided for those students who have the lowest grades and serious problems with understanding the basic material (Fulton County Schools, 2012).
It should be stressed that the school is still experiencing a significant pressure to perform on standardized tests since they are used in determining the CCRPI score. The impact of school accountability on school climate is rather complex. On the one hand, the standardized procedures provide the objective foundation for results, and it may be considered as being a positive consequence. On the other hand, some innovations that are beyond the sphere of regulations of the CCRPI are not properly evaluated. It means that in some cases, teachers do not possess a necessary motivation to make innovations that may be potentially highly beneficial to the learning process.
Standardized testing and school accountability impact students in the classroom in a number of ways. As students want to get higher marks, they have to pay additional attention to those areas that are determined by standardized tests. However, they have no incentives for creativity and independent exploring of other scientific fields that are interesting for them. All positive consequences are intended while problems with motivation are unintended outcomes.
Thus, it may be concluded that Harriett Tubman Elementary School performs well in comparison with other schools. At the same time, some weaknesses exist; they should be addressed in the near future. The current system of standardized testing has both positive and negative consequences. In order to optimize the learning process, creativity and innovations should be encouraged. Therefore, the school should implement its own strategies that take into account the needs of the local population and availability of different resources.
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