Common Core tests are high stakes for a first-year principal determined to improve her struggling New Orleans elementary school, reports Peg Tyre in the Christian Science Monitor.
Krystal Hardy leads Sylvanie Williams College Prep, a charter school in New Orleans that enrolls low-income African-American students.
Students take lots of tests, including state exams in science and social studies, two rounds of Core-aligned PARCC tests in English and math. In some grades, they take benchmarking tests several times a year.
The school’s improvement started with diagnostic exams that enabled Hardy and her staff to spot patterns of errors.
That’s “dramatically changed the way teachers teach,” writes Tyre. “And the teachers are noticing that student achievement is picking up.”
“We were able to administer targeted medicine,” says Hardy.
“Instead of saying, ‘Some of these students aren’t good at multiplying,’ ” she says, “we could start to say, for example, that 40 percent of these students in this class don’t seem to understand the place-value concept in three-digit numbers and about 40 percent, say, understand the concept but are not paying attention to details when they compute.”
None of the school’s parents have opted their child out of testing.
The school also has a social-justice focus. Hardy took 40 students to Selma, Ala. for the 50th anniversary of the march to Montgomery. And one morning, she “taught a unit on poverty in America, which included having third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders compare weekly expenses with median income for high school dropouts, college graduates, and those with a master’s degree.”