At the end of a very thoughtful article in Brooklyn Magazine about Louis C.K. as concerned elementary school parent and the problems with NYC testing culture (their site is down, I will link when it comes up), all of which I passionately agree, I read this sentence,
"Middle schools do look at report cards when evaluating fifth-graders, however, much like with the SATs, test scores are notoriously heavily weighted."
Sounds of screeching tires and broken glass.
It is just not true, at least not in my corner of the world.
This is a big borough, and I only cover the northwest part of it. So I started writing letters to principals near and far in different districts, just to confirm. First in D15, then 13, 14, and beyond. Asking what they use as criteria.
They said (multiple times in many ways),
-we have never used scores as part of our admissions process
-we are looking for nice HARD WORKING kids
-we want kids who want us
-the other criteria we use carries much more weight than any unreliable exam
-we know there are kids who struggle academically who still work hard
I know all you guys are scrared and you have heard this old saw about test scores being important so many times that you can't believe what they tell you at each open house and can read very clearly on their websites. This is the one universal truth/urban forklore/crock of poop that will not go away. Think about this guys...these middle school principals all care about their students. Their students still have to take the very poorly designed tests that misrepresent everyone in their community. They are upset that those tests might be used for high school placement...live by the sword, die by the sword. Why would they use them for your kids only to despise them for their own students?
Only one school that I talked to has scores as any part of its process. They use a score as the initial screen to reduce the number of kids that they interview. Last year that cut off was a "mid 2" to accommodate the poor quality of the tests. After that initial screen it has absoultely no part in their process.