The scores are in and the news is encouraging for Payson schools: Our students are moving up the scale on the Stanford 9 achievement test.
The district's students fared better than last year in every grade level in language, math and reading compared to their peers across the nation. In language skills, most grades moved up the scale from 4 to 12 percentile points. All grades were ranked higher than last year in math and reading skills, some by as many as 11 percentile points.
Congratulations are due to Payson Unified School District teachers and administrators who have worked hard to move our children up in the ranks. The children are also to be congratulated for their efforts. In fact, Arizona schools statewide scored higher this year for the second year in a row.
All deserve a pat on the back, but some perspective on this achievement is due. The Stanford 9 test is just a single, limited measure of the performance of our educational system. Consider this:
- Stanford 9 is a multiple-choice test that does not ask students to write a sentence or a paragraph. Nor does it attempt to measure valuable attributes such as responsibility, initiative and creativity.
- The average score of students in smaller schools can vary widely from year to year because very good or very bad scores among a few students have more of an impact.
- Test scores for schools and districts as a whole do not necessarily take into account the effect of transiency rates or the number of limited English proficient students. These and other variables out of the control of administrators and teachers can affect the schools' scores.
While the improvement in local rankings is a good thing, we should not become relaxed in our efforts to continue to improve our educational system in every way. Our state government has had to be pushed into giving education the attention and support that it deserves. Let's continue pressing forward in telling our legislators that we expect education to always be a priority.
The local and statewide improvement in Stanford 9 ranking is just one victory in a very important war that we cannot afford to lose.