Re: “Vital testing data can ensure students get support they need” [March 28, Opinion]:
I agree with Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle president and CEO Michelle Merriweather about the importance of the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). Data can lead to better teaching and thus better education.
However, Merriweather ignores a glaring irony when she states that data helped “strike down school segregation.” While SBA test scores help schools make instruction more equitable, they also drive housing inequity. Greatschools.org, the school rating system used on Zillow and Redfin, primarily uses test scores from the SBA. When you see one school that is a 2/5 and another that is 4/5, most of that rating comes from test scores.
So, while the SBA does inform teachers what to do better, it also has a disastrous effect on public perception of those students. Studies show that neighborhoods with schools with high Greatschools.org ratings increase in value while those with low scores decrease, thereby in fact exacerbating segregation. So, when a student innocently takes the SBA, they aren’t providing data just to caring educators; they are providing it to business.
Until real estate companies divorce themselves from such an undemocratic company, students and families who refuse the test in the name of social justice are in the right.
Sean Riley, Seattle, National Board Certified Teacher