Standardized test scores fail to make new evaluation tool roster

Image of a Henderson High School commencement via the West Chester Area School District.

Pennsylvania recently introduced a new school evaluation tool, the Future Ready PA Index, which ditches scoring to offer parents a more nuanced look at public schools, writes Avi Wolfman-Arent for WHYY.

Instead of a number or a letter grade attached to a school, the new tool provides a profile page for each of the state’s public and charter schools. It contains a collage of dots sorted into eight categories, with links to more detailed data.

“A single summative score can send a false message about what’s happening throughout a school,” said Matthew Stem, the state’s deputy secretary for elementary and secondary education.

State officials believe this approach removes the emphasis from standardized test scores and provides a more detailed look at the commonwealth’s public schools. They also hope this will give schools and districts the opportunity to focus on more holistic measures.

However, the question is whether parents will embrace the new tool, when there are already several available and established school scoring sites that millions of people trust.

Skeptics of the new system also argue that information overload could confuse parents, saying that a rating system without an overall grade is not especially helpful.

Read more about the new tool to evaluate Pennsylvania’s public schools at WHYY here.

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