Considering recent debate over declining test scores, we must acknowledge there is concern voiced by authoritative figures. Recently, I attended a House Education Committee meeting where Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education, gave a presentation about Indiana’s scores, including pre-pandemic decline. Federal, state and local education leaders and legislators are concerned about the data from the Indiana Dept. of Education.
Carmel residents writing this publication to suggest “test scores don’t reflect school quality” are failing to address the declining proficiency of Indiana’s students in math and language arts. Are we considering that test scores are completely irrelevant and that we should only utilize subjective measurements such as “student well-being,” “career satisfaction” and “community involvement?” One could make an argument that we should add those metrics, but I would disagree that they alone would accurately measure proficiency. We cannot simply ignore our current metrics that establish the educational goals of the state, which consume 60 percent of the state budget. Indiana Code 20-19-2-14 requires it.
Using charged and dismissive language to engage with community issues is divisive, unprofessional and dehumanizing. Can we encourage each other to listen instead of accusing our neighbors of “lying” or “peddling illusions?” We all agree to take academics seriously and disagree on how to measure success. The “how” matters. As a parent of several children, it matters to me that they develop academic proficiency in addition to character attributes such as happiness and kindness. As for skills, we must not focus primarily on the individual (i.e., “critical thinking”) in lieu of developing the technical (i.e., math computation). Highly technical career fields require actual proficiency in technical skills as well as the ability to think creatively. Both are needed to become productive members of society.
Jennifer Hendrix, Carmel