Dear NYS, What to Do When Your Scores Come Out Tomorrow

Schools have started hearing preliminary score reporting today and tomorrow is the official release of the results of the latest round of NYS ELA standardized testing.  These tests were, as you know, full of controversy (I wrote about some of the fray and one educator’s experience on SmartBlog on Education: “Testing: Are Percentage of Students Crying Valuable Data?”).

by Pink Sherbet Photography used under Creative Commons Lic

So what should you do when you find out your scores?


Know that this “drop” was expected. It was spoken about months ago and now again the state Commissioner and the US Secretary of Education reportedly spoke today about the drop in scores. Your school is not alone, your classroom is not alone, this is everyone.


Don’t plan your year in response to one exam, one score. Anyone with basic statistical skills will remind you that trends are far more important that blips. And blips (and trends) live within a larger system. You are not a one-year island.

Do triangulate scores with your own data. The conversations you study, the student writing and reading you look over, the daily artifacts you collect. As educators we want to know what are kids can do, what their strengths are, what their next steps could be. Seeing a trend in data – all data, not just one test – is useful to reflective practitioners.

Then, in the advice of Michael Fullan – aim to build on strengths, not take on hundreds of initiatives no human could ever fully implement all at once.  Between scores and student work you notice great things happening in terms of essay writing? Study it. Build on it.  Between scores and student work you notice a positive trend in how students think about literature? Study it. Build on it. Success breeds success.


Feel what you authentically feel. Today I felt shocked. And pissed off. And really, really sad. And angry again. And sad again. And resolute to speak out. And sad again. And angry.  For a variety of reasons:

  • I know many great teachers through this process are becoming disenchanted with our local system.
  • I know your job could be effected by these results and that is scary.
  • I know kids often feel defined by numbers and scores.
  • I know many parents are feeling angry and confused.
  • I know more and more instructional time is going towards test preparation for tests that are getting harder and harder to see any pay off to this prep. Yet in many schools the prep grows.
  • I know in many schools budgets are going toward “fix-it” curriculums and textbooks and technology stamped with the claim to “raise scores” or be “common core aligned”, money that would be better spent going to books, and arts, and real technology, and teachers, and and and.
  • I know the story of a failed system is not all that it seems.

I also know


Connect. Join twitter, blogs, wikis, nings, conventions, local reading councils, open your classroom doors. Tests don’t develop instructional practices, practitioners develop instructional practices together.


Remember why you joined this amazing, vibrant, challenging, inspiring, life-altering profession.

You are some child’s most important adult.

You are some child’s inspiration.

You are some child’s life path.

You are some child’s joy.

We need you–when it feels impossible, when it feels wonderful–We need you.

10 thoughts on “Dear NYS, What to Do When Your Scores Come Out Tomorrow

  1. Thank you for this, especially this: “Feel what you authentically feel.” It’s so important to find practical ways to approach impractical moments, but it’s also important to allow yourself to react. It’s unfortunate that at times like this we need the permission to feel, but I’m glad you are here to remind us that we have it.

  2. Thanks for this post. SO important for all of us in education to remember that we are more than a number and so are our students. We need to remain passionate about what we do for our students, schools, community, and country.

    Thanks for the inspiration on a day when there will be a lot of finger pointing.

  3. I loved the way you ended this – not on a note of defeat but on a note of empowerment. I think this may well be a watershed moment (let’s hope) for the people with power to take a step back and think, really think, about the effect all of this insane testing has on our kids. Thank you for writing this, it needed to be written.

  4. Heart goes out to NYS colleagues and their students. Your heartfelt and inspiring words transcend just your state results and reach us all. Thanks Chris!

  5. Right on! Loved your fifth list! That is what we have to remember.. we are not scores and neither are our kids. Thanks for sharing!

    • Our students deserve better than to be trivialized by a numbered score. Teachers in September go back to the classroom with the added mission to empower kids! Let them know “They Matter”- then teach them content, skills, and strategies to succeed in school and life!


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