Testing helps District 9-R gauge students’ abilities, prepare them for success

Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 12:50 PM

Recently, the school district received its state data from assessments administered across the district last spring. While there clearly are results that warrant celebration, we also had a number of areas of disappointment that require an increased focus on practice and instruction.

I’m the first to admit that a test is not the end all, be all. The reality is that assessments are a part of our life – especially for those who enter the professional world where passing an exam to secure a license is not optional. It’s safe to say that the medical exam, the bar exam and the testing of airplane mechanics for licensure are here to stay. Recently, I was at the DMV to renew my license. While there, I observed an individual who was making another attempt at the driver’s test. I didn’t see anyone in the room advocating that passing this test wasn’t important to securing a driver’s license.

The reality is that assessment is but one more important measure of our children’s ability to show us what they know through a standardized, normed experience that can allow us to compare our students to others, both across the state and across the nation.

In the past five years, there has been a movement endorsing what some refer to as the “whole child,” where testing and academic rigor are discouraged. In my opinion, this movement recognizes that our students can’t learn until we ensure that they feel safe and supported. Once that is satisfied, academic rigor and quality instruction are essential for students to achieve mastery of state standards and the district’s performance indicators at each grade level and in all content areas. This will remain our focus in 9-R.

As parents, we often focus on the happiness of our children as a measure of success. Recently, a parent said, “I don’t care what you teach them. I’ll teach them what I want them to know. I just want them to be happy at school.” While I respect the desire to focus on happiness, the reality is that our district’s job is to focus on learning as well. In today’s society, we can’t ignore the basic needs of our children. That being said, school is not just a place for children to hang out during the day but a place to gain knowledge and skills on their march to being successful citizens in our society.

With that goal, our district needs strong partnerships with parents. Educating children really does take a village. While our teachers and support staff are intently focused on that mission during the school day, parents and families play a critical role in encouraging and sharing learning goals and objectives with their children, while supporting them through their struggles.

We don’t always get it right, and I know parents may not always understand 9-R’s mission and vision. Last month, I encouraged dialogue. From 7:30 to 9 a.m. Sept. 29, members of my team and I will be in the meeting room at Durango Joe’s at 732 E. College Drive. This will be a great opportunity to share ideas and feedback – and coffee is on me!

Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at