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Critical Questions in Education, v7 n2 p146-167 Sum 2016

Using standardized test scores to measure success in schools is a controversial topic in education today. Many feel that test scores are not a valid indicator of success, or are being overused to the detriment of the curriculum. But if not test scores, then what is the alternative? This study examines potential alternatives, or more authentic indicators of student success through a survey of alumni from one progressive, urban, public school, and also how this school might have contributed to this success. Participants in this study identified markers for success both while in school as well as later in adult life. Project presentations, reflective portfolio work, leadership and service experiences, daily classroom and quarterly assessments, graduation and acceptance into college were identified as indicators of success while in high school. Later in life, participants noted that graduating from college, getting a job, purchasing a home, being able to pay the bills, community engagement, and being happy and satisfied with life were also indicators of success. These findings suggest that while standardized test scores offer a snapshot of information about K-12 students, educational leaders need to look far beyond these scores to gauge true success. This study suggests ways to look at how students and schools are actually performing in deep and authentic ways, and presents curriculum that has been reported to foster success in students' lives.

Descriptors: High School Graduates, Urban Schools, Progressive Education, Educational Indicators, Success, Academic Achievement, Public Schools, Alumni, Surveys, Standardized Tests, Scores, Outcomes of Education, Performance Based Assessment, Leadership Training, Multiple Intelligences, Theory Practice Relationship, Active Learning, Experiential Learning, Field Trips, Service Learning, Apprenticeships, Academic Persistence

Academy for Educational Studies. 2419 Berkeley Street, Springfield, MO 65804. Tel: 417-299-1560; e-mail: cqieeditors[at]; Web site:

Autor: Kunkel, Christine D.


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