by David Safier

It astounds me that three TUSD principals are facing nonrenewal based on a single criterion: their students' scores on the AIMS test. Period. No consideration of other measures of academic success. No consideration of aspects of a school's education like improvements in the learning atmosphere, specialized programs, student safety or students' attitudes toward the school. Not even a peek at the annual surveys TUSD conducts at every school which are posted online (See yesterday's post for an analysis of the survey results).

To be slightly more accurate, the principals' nonrenewal is actually based on each school's state grade, not directly on the AIMS test. But the state grade is calculated using only the AIMS test — a combination of the raw AIMS score and student improvement on the test over the previous year.

This is high stakes testing on steroids, a nightmare scenario where the bubbles students fill in on tests whose accuracy and validity are questionable, tests which only cover a small part of the curriculum, are the sole measure of the success of a school, a principal or a teacher. We've always been told, "Don't worry so much about standardized tests. They're only one variable in the larger evaluation process." The nonrenewal of these three principals gives the lie to that assertion. In this case, it's all about the test, period. The precedent has been set.