What Student Success Is Not

Do you know what the Cobb County School District motto is? 

One Team. One Goal. Student Success. 

It is a motto that every teacher, administrator, and staff member will hear, say, and read dozens of times each year. Not only will they hear or see these words, they will also internalize them because the district truly is focused on ensuring success for each and every one of our students. 

Understanding that success is the goal of our district, the question then becomes, “What is success?” 

Is it a score on a test? 

Is it a grade in a class? 

Is it a graduation? 

Is it learning how to read, to balance a checkbook, to show up to work on time, or to help others in need? 

We don’t think there is an easy answer to these questions. All of these things can play some role in telling us what student success is, but none on their own can answer this for us. 

Our students are not some number on a test or in a class. No, they are unique individuals with different life experiences, talents, abilities, roadblocks, and stepping stones. 

As such, a single grade, from a single test, on a single day cannot be our measure of success.  

So then why do we focus so much of our time, resources, and attention on a few of our test scores?  

We do it because it’s easy. It’s the easiest way to put a numeric value on what our students “know,” which means it’s the easiest way to evaluate our schools, which means it’s the easiest way to tell our stakeholders (and voters) that our schools are successful. Sadly, as we all know, the easiest way is almost never the best way. 

The Cobb County School District has decided that the time has come to stop doing things the “easy way” and to refocus our efforts on doing things in the best way possible for our students. 

What does this mean? 

It means that we must reevaluate how we measure student success.  

As Superintendent Ragsdale is fond of saying, “Success is more than a test score.” No longer will we pretend that student success can be measured by a test score, instead we’ll use testing as a diagnostic tool to better our instruction. Again, the Superintendent explains, “Assessment has been about what students know, on one specific day. Assessment should be a tool, used by teachers, to guide instruction for each and every student.” 

If we say that we are dead-set on helping each and every one of our students succeed, then we must do everything we can to make that goal a reality. Which is why we are excited that the Cobb County School District was among the first to apply for an assessment waiver from the state that will allow us to shift our focus from “end-of-the-year” testing to a more complete system of measuring student success.  

For the betterment of all of our students, and to better assist our students on their road to success, we will, we must, do everything in our power to give them the best education possible. We are committed to this cause. One Team. One Goal. Student Success.