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Teaching to the Tests "Is Over" in Bellevue, Board Member Says

Students from the elementary and high school were honored at the beginning of the regular Bellevue School board meeting last Wednesday night in a continuing effort to recognize students at each meeting. One student from each grade came up in front of the audience to receive a certificate declaring them student of the month for their grade, a designation made according to their display of Tiger spirit and good character traits. The students were given a round of applause.
 
The Board was given a report on the scores of the students in recent tests administered by the schools, and the news was good.
 
“We had a pretty nice little jump,” said Dan Swope from the school board. “Our scores went from like the 17th percentile to the 42nd percentile, which was a 25 percent jump. Now last year our scores dropped a little, but if we achieve a 25 percent jump next year that will really be something."
 
With last year being the final year of the eleven year tenure of former superintendent Wayne Starnes, and within the busy schedule of one superintendent leaving and another arriving, no programs were put in place to try and improve the scores of the students. Once new Superintendent Robb Smith was installed, he made it clear he did not want to teach to the tests, hoping instead to internalize learning into the students, theorizing that once students learned because they wanted to learn, test scores couldn’t help but go up.
 
“That is his specialty, and one of the reasons we hired him,” said Swope. “So teaching to the tests is over with. We have thought there were inherent problems with that practice, from the fed on down. We are proud of our students, and looking forward to seeing this new theory put into practice for next year.”
 
The board approved a request to pay bills and payroll. They also approved several fundraisers, most of which are in the future, but one which had already happened. No citizens came to speak at the meeting.
 
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
 
Photo: Grandview Elementary students honored. First row: Taytem Sorrell, Brailynn Nash, Bella Adkins; Second row: Mia Bell, Laney Johnson, Katie Tatum, Catalina Craig; Back row: Mr. Robb Smith, Superintendent, Mr. David Fuller, Principal, Mrs. Laurie Franzen, Assistant Principal (provided)