One of the principals I work for is on a quest: she wants our school to be the number one school in the county. Right now our API ranks third behind two schools in a neighboring district. Every time I hear this "number one" crap I want to walk out of the room. (Actually, I want to yell at her; that wouldn't play well at my dismissal hearing, though.)
Make sense of this: her quest is based solely on our API, a number calculated using our students' individual test scores on the state exams, and a number which, for us, is the highest in our district; she's comparing our API to the APIs of two schools we aren't in competition with unless we choose to be (and it's not like we can steal someone else's customers to pull this off, anyway--we have ZERO impact on the other schools' numbers); and we've already got students pushing themselves to the point of fracture to succeed. I'm not even going to try and list the myriad things we do at this school to help the students, the parents, and the community. All she's looking at is the goddamned test scores. (Show me the school that has the lowest number of students testing "below proficient"; that'll impress me.)
Here's how this should work: we should serve the needs of our students. We should build our academic program around the goals we set for our students. We shouldn't even care what the other schools test scores look like, since we have no impact on them and they have no impact on us. We should do what we can for our students.
Why don't I agree with the principal who wants our school to become the number one school in the county? Because I think it already is.