Editorial: School report is valuable, but it doesn’t fully measure

Testing is not the only means of measuring the success of students.

No doubt, it is time honored. Responsibilities are given to leaders to determine how our public schools are doing. Without some level of measurement, how are we to know? Waiting for years to determine if Little Johnny or Cutie Susie did well just doesn’t work.

The state has tweaked its measurements on occasion, seeking the best resources to determine student performance and how teachers are doing. We applaud the effort, and the state’s admission that not every measurement works.

We don’t believe they’ll find a perfect system.

Wednesday, the state school system released to its Board of Education the School Performance Grade accountability measurement and the four-year Cohort Graduation Rate. We’re pleased there was good news in the reports for Bladen County Schools.

We do not dismiss the bad news, one school being laden with an F and another three picking up Ds. But we also do not fully judge that quartet on this report. At each school, there are students desiring to learn and doing well, and there are instructors and administration doing their best.

We believe there will be improvement.

Trending well for the school system again was the graduation rate. Bladen County has consistently performed well in this statistic, and the Class of 2018 kept it going. East Bladen’s 92.6 percent and West Bladen’s 87.2 percent were each above the state average.

Ultimately, schools try to prepare students to go into the world after graduation and be successful. Standardized measurements, no matter how well intended or reasoned, have flaws.

Consider the school convocation from a couple of weeks ago.

There, we saw two very successful young men. One is the county’s teacher of the year, the other pastor of an Elizabethtown church making a difference in the community. Both shared life testimonies that included the high school years. The teacher said he carried emotional baggage; the pastor’s interests included drugs.

The testimonies don’t indicate they would have contributed positively to their respective schools’ measurements. Maybe they did. In any event, we can look now and hear them tell of adversities overcome.

In each case, school made a difference. And, as they told it, not by testing; rather, school teachers and administrators were pivotal with the relationships they forged.

Later, Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor stressed a message of trying to engage and connect with students.

“It’s about the impact on the children,” Taylor said.

We think he got it right. School is about impacting children, teaching them and helping them to be successful not only today taking tests, but tomorrow taking care of us.

Wednesday’s report had value. But it is not the only measurement of our Bladen County schools.