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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers & Jeers

Tests helpful but not only measuring tool

Just ahead of the 2012-13 academic year, the Minnesota Department of Education released student test results from the previous year.

Overall, children and schools in the Bemidji area fared well, reinforcing children are receiving quality instruction from teachers.

For years there's been controversy about whether test results are a true measure of a quality education. Until another measure of learning is developed, we must rely on these tests to assess student and teacher performance.

Scott Anderson, director of Schoolcraft Learning Community, put it in perspective.

While Schoolcraft scored 100 percent on one comprehensive assessment and marked high scores in middle and high school math and reading, testing only goes so far.

"You kind of pat yourself on the back with one hand but kind of shake your finger and keep reminding people that there are so many other tremendous things happening in every school," Anderson said last week. "(A test) is just a snapshot of a kid's experience in school."

Other schools - TrekNorth Junior and Senior High schools, Voyageurs Expeditionary High School and the Bemidji School District as a whole, performed well, too.The scores help administrators and teachers analyze performance and set goals for the upcoming year.

The upside to taking tests is that as long as state and federal officials require the assessments, schools and teachers will continue challenging themselves to be innovative in teaching children.

The results provide some sense of measure of what is happening in the classroom. But test results shouldn't be the only barometer.

Our children can't be simply defined by percentages and letter grades.

Help needed

As the school year nears, the Salvation Army again looks to provide backpacks and supplies to low-income children in grades K-12 in Beltrami County.

Churches United is seeking applicants to participate in its Pack for School program, along with school supply donations. Contact Churches United in Nymore for ways to help.

Supplies will be distributed later this month.

Dragon Drama

The 2012 version of the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival proved to be full of drama and fun for the family.

The festival seems to get better each year, and despite a few fits of inclement weather, paddlers and spectators turned out to support the community and teams. There were numerous close races, and more importantly, plenty of smiles.

Organizers and volunteers deserve a heart-felt thank you for another terrific festival.

With dragon boat races barely in the rearview mirror, the Beltrami County Fair begins its five-day run Wednesday.

The annual event draws hundreds of 4H members, who've put together more than 2,400 projects this year.

A summer staple, attending the County Fair is an excellent way to show support for the youth in our communities.