The new ranking system for school performance will be color-coded.
That’s it. That was not a lead-in to a joke or a humorous observation. I am also not being sarcastic or cynical. To paraphrase America’s Greatest Bard, “Sometimes the truth is dumber than fiction.”
The whole point of ranking school performance in the first place was to determine which schools were actually teaching and which schools needed help. That every test they’ve so far devised to measure this has been pathetically flawed to the point of idiocy is beside the point. Shockingly, the people who are among the best at the full contact sport known colloquially as “school” were amazingly successful at tailoring their efforts to suit the grading rubric for excellence devised by the state. So successful in fact, that even schools who still don’t teach anything are scoring fairly high. Clearly this doesn’t mean that the idea that schools can be tested this way is a flawed idea, it simply means that the rubric being used isn’t hard enough. I bet that if we simply re-calibrate what it means to be a good school, more schools will need the state’s help and this means that more schools will get the help they obviously need.
While we’re at it, the public has stated that calling a school a “School of Excellence” or an “Honors School of Excellence” is simply too confusing; exactly what are they trying to communicate with the word “excellent?” Instead we’ll simplify the whole thing and now each school will be either red, yellow, or green. Not only is this more obvious to the illiterate which schools are good schools, but it serves as a helpful screening for the color blind.
My hypothesis is that if your public needs to have their school’s performance color-coded, that in itself is a perfectly good indicator of how well your school is doing. Having said that, do we really need to capitulate to the demands of the terminally stupid? Why is it wrong to say, “Look, I’m sorry that you possess the perspicacity of a lobotomized banana slug, but trust me “excellent” is like “good” but better”? I completely understand that teachers have needed to lower their standards to those of the state tests for more than a decade now and that we’re beginning to see the effects of this in the electorate, but why do we have to further degrade the efforts of our teachers by treating them like elementary students?
The whole thing just seems to me rather self-defeating. You want our schools to perform at a higher level, which involves more nuance and innovation than we’ve had in the past and in order to judge their efforts we’re going to simplify the rubric to the same one used in my daughter’s daycare?
I’ll close with words from a sage from across the Atlantic this time: