Staying Motivated When Test Scores in the School are Down

Staying Motivated When Test Scores in the School are Down

There’s so much emphasis on test scores that many teachers are constantly depressed and to be honest, many are getting out of the field. However, those of us who love our profession and our students don’t see that as an option.

So how can we keep our heads up when we know we’re teaching and doing the best we can? My first suggestion for you is to look for other indicators of success rather than just a child’s test score.

For instance, look at the effort your students give. If you’re getting your students to try their best, isn’t this a skill that will serve them well in life? Look at whether or not they enjoy learning and participating in class. Won’t this enthusiasm and engagement help them greatly in life? Wanting to learn for learning’s sake is something that helps students who may start out behind be able to catch up and eventually even surpass many others.

I believe there’s a place for testing but there’s little doubt that it has become the focus in too many places, even above learning. Therefore, I ask you to actually sit down along with some of your colleagues in the building and develop anywhere between 5-10 indicators of success besides test scores. For instance, consider how many books they read as being an important indicator of future success. Somewhere down the road, the experiences they encounter in those books can be life-changing and that doesn’t always show up in a test score.

An indicator of success that’s often overlooked in so-called low-performing schools is social awareness or social aptitude. For example, are your students interested in the well-being of others? Do they help collect food for the less fortunate or take part in other social campaigns? How many of them will someday give back to the community because of the types of things you taught them as a teacher or your school did as a community project? Don’t get down because the test scores aren’t as high as you would like. Work on test scores, definitely, but consider the whole child when determining her or his level of success.

You can stay motivated as an educator even when test scores aren’t optimal. Remember, there’s more than one indicator of success. By focusing on the big picture, you can stay motivated to continue to enhance the lives of your students!


About the Author

Larry Bell, a Citadel graduate, is a 30+ year veteran in education. Fifteen of those years were spent as a classroom teacher where he was nominated for the National Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award. As a teacher at Gar-field High School, a school with over 3,000 students speaking 36 different languages, Larry was recognized for his innovative classroom strategies that allowed his so called “Tough Kids” as well as his “Gifted and Talented” to excel!