OUR VIEWS: Report cards don't compute

Aug 9, 2012


How in the world do two school districts that are ranked in the top 5 percent of schools in the nation score so low in state tests?

Both Grand Haven and Spring Lake earned bragging rights via Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report earlier this year for having the most educated students in the nation. They also do extremely well in academic competitions, with Grand Haven in particular hitting consistent home runs with their Science Olympiad teams.

We applaud them for their excellence.

Yet how then can only half of third- through eighth-grade Grand Haven students be proficient in math and reading? How can 38 percent of the youngsters in Spring Lake lack proficiency in these subjects?

These schools are among the best of the best. Yet only half or two-thirds of their students read and write well?

We cry foul.

The state's new scoring system is clearly flawed and needs to be reconsidered.

Just as our teachers and students adapt to new testing requirements, and begin to achieve within the state's boundaries, a new scoring system comes along. There are always new requirements, expectations and measures by which schools are "held accountable."

Perhaps the state should be held accountable to these children.

Certainly there's little doubt that the state must develop standards for our educators, but they also must set challenging and attainable goals. Allow the report cards to reflect the real-world achievements of our students and educators. And that's academic excellence.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


explained by...

The state's scoring system may or may not be flawed, but the data you present do not suggest one way or the other. It is quite possible to have a school program that caters to and serves well the high achievers (e.g., Science Olmpiad team members), but yet fails the broader spectrum of students whom might have more average abilities. This would explain a system that produces a 5-10 percentile of students that are among the highest achievers in the nation (as reported by U.S. News and World Report), but yet displays largely less-then-proficient performance in the lower rankings. The likelihood of this happening can increase in a large system like Grand Haven, where large class size may contribute to an environment where high scheiveers drive the class pace, and the other students slowly fall behind. In any case, the Tribune might be too hasty in its criticism. Further research would be needed before reaching these types of conclusions about the state scoring system.


I totally agree with explained by. I'm not sure how Newsweek and U.S.A. Today use data to come up with their lists of top high schools, but it seems that those publications are forgetting the number of students who tend to fall between the cracks. I feel fortunate that my 17 year-old attends Spring Lake H.S. because it's a small student population, however, class sizes in important subjects such as Algebra are quite large (over 30 students). Long story short, my teen is smart but not exactly a scholar. I attend parent conferences regularly and feel that he can't get the individualized attention that would help him to do better because some teachers are stretched very thin. We have some great area schools but they are far from perfect.


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