Count this among the many bad side effects of test-centered schools. Test results can be a lovely curtain used to cloak a multitude of ills.
A school with decent test scores, either by themselves or translated into whatever sort of rating shenanigans used by your state, can deploy those scores as a shiny curtain. "Don't look behind this at whatever else we're doing to your child's education! Just look at these bee-yoo-tee-ful scores! Proof that we are a great school!"
Cut the arts? Downsize every department? Eat up a third of the year with test prep tests and plain old test prep? Beat down staff morale? Close the library? Fire support staff?
Just wave that beautiful cloak!
Test-centered schools are education reduced to one simple job-- get students to score well on a single narrow Big Standardized Test. And reducing education to that one simple job absolves schools and districts (and states-- looking at you, Florida) from having to do half-decent work on any of the other jobs that we used to associate with education.
For schools run by data-driven administrators, or administrators who are not committed to the full picture, or even administrators who are facing severe financial pressures, the testing cloak is a godsend, a piece of helpful protective cover. "We may be gutting the system, but hey-- look at our test scores!"
That's why the reaction to any school's tale of its lovely test scores has to be the same--
"Very nice scores-- but what did it cost you to get them? "
If the answer is, "Why nothing! We just aligned the curriculum and voila-- test scores!"-- well, this answer is a lie.Keep asking what the lovely cloak cost, because it certainly wasn't free, and it probably wasn't cheap. Make sure you get to see what's behind the curtain.