Recently, The Gazette published a side-by-side comparison of elementary schools in the Cedar Rapids Community School District as part of its coverage of the district’s master facilities plan. Comparison data included free and reduced price lunch statistics, race and ethnicity data, and proficiency scores.
While I understand the importance of measuring school success and the appeal of relying on easily quantifiable data, I would caution families against making educational decisions based solely on test scores.
My daughters, ages 8 and 11, have had the incredible good fortune to attend Johnson STEAM Academy, a school with below average statistical scores. Not only are my girls proficient in both reading and math, but they have thrived academically and socially under the direction of an incredibly talented and dedicated staff. Both of my children have had the opportunity to participate in a varied selection of arts and science-themed enrichments including violin lessons, Gospel Choir, coding, 3D printing, robotics, improv, sewing, and pottery but perhaps most importantly they have made amazing friends — some with experiences and personal situations similar to theirs — and many others with very different perspectives and circumstances.
Johnson has provided my family with so many meaningful experiences, the results of which are difficult to measure. In the debate surrounding the master facilities plan, I hope that we don’t lose sight of these important contributions.