Sonoma Valley Sun


Don’t rate school only by test scores

Posted on December 5, 2023 by Sonoma Valley Sun

I am saddened to read about poor student achievement in Sonoma Valley. I believe that this is because middle income families cannot afford to live in Sonoma, and those who can afford local market-rate housing often send their kids to private schools. Therefore our student population is skewed toward lower-income families.

As a public school teacher with 30 years of classroom experience, I was disappointed to read in the article that fewer students meeting state standards is based on achievement tests. It’s clear that local students are falling behind but I think it is very misleading to focus on the results of achievement tests. The countries whose schools achieve the highest ranking in international comparisons, such as South Korea, Finland, and Singapore, administer few standardized tests. In America, the poorer students are, the more they are tested.

Test scores are just one of many possible ways to rate our schools. Kindergarten readiness, parent participation, positive school climate, student motivation, graduation rates, teacher pay, and teacher job satisfaction are just a few of the many ways we could assess our schools.

Reporting on test scores takes the focus off of much more important issues concerning how well our public schools are doing: California ranks 23rd nationally in per-pupil spending, and 49th in the nation in teacher staffing ratio.

Until students from low-income households attend schools that are as well-funded and staffed as those from wealthy families, we cannot hope to provide our students with a world-class education, and no amount of scrutiny of test scores can hope to alleviate low student achievement.

— Matt Metzler, Sonoma 

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA