That the Wake County School Board is splitting along partisan lines on whether to use test schools in deciding where children attend school is not news.
All the buzz is about a plan put forth by school consultant Michael Alves that uses test scores — in place of socioeconomic diversity — as one four criteria on which to base student assignment decisions.
Let’s remember: using test scores in school assignment decisions is not the same as using socioeconomic factors. Socioeconomic status is rarely – if ever – changed. It’s also a condition a child has no control over. A child’s test scores are influenced by a myriad of personal and societal factors. Most importantly however, a child’s test scores as well his or her intellectual development — often change over time. Using test scores in school assignment decisions ignores those realities, to the detriment of the student.
Aside from these concerns one of the reasons the Wake County School Board scrapped the school assignment policy is that it failed to significantly improve graduation rates and test scores among minority students.
Having the right balance of test scores in a school does not improve minority student achievement any more than a plan that used socioeconomic diversity in school assignment decisions. And, that’s the problem. The sooner we realize it, the better.