Is it possible to get a good education in a school with bad test scores? Or are parents merely incapable of seeing a bad school for what it really is? “Many parents of children in academically struggling schools still believe their child is getting a fine education,” notes the Atlanta Journal and Constitution’s education columnist Maureen Downey. ”They are either unfazed by the lackluster test scores or unaware of them.”
What they notice — and what they value — is that their 10-year-old son’s artwork hangs in the school hallway or their 15-year-old daughter marches on the field with the band on Friday nights. Parents talk about how hard the teachers work, regardless of how the school’s test scores rank with other schools across the state. They feel their children are accepted and encouraged.
Downey, who has been cranking out thoughtful and provocative ed pieces for the AJC for much of the past year, cites data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, which noted “a disconnect between actual student performance and parental satisfaction…especially among parents of low-achieving students and students attending schools in high-poverty neighborhoods.”
“The state may say our school is failing, but it’s not failing my child,” one parent tells Downey, who also notes that “as states encourage the creation of still more charter schools, parental satisfaction will become more important.”