Every year, communities across Massachusetts get a complicated school report card that purports to measure their success in educating elementary and middle school children. The MCAS scores — which stands for Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System — are anxiously awaited by public school administrators, who use them to gauge educational progress, shift resources and tweak curriculum.

When this year’s scores were tallied, all the Island schools once again turned in a generally good performance, with some few weak spots in places, including in math and science. The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School is the only school that was found “requiring assistance or intervention,” due to test results. Head of school Peter Steedman, new to the job this year, did not try to put a spin on things, noting bluntly that the main factor was poor attendance on test days, a problem he intends to correct.

On the other end of the curve, the Tisbury School turned in the highest performance scores of any Island school, a positive piece of news for educators forced to teach in a building in critical need of either major renovation or replacement. Its future is still uncertain after voters narrowly rejected a spending measure last year for a new building.

Like all standardized testing, MCAS has been controversial through the years among both parents and educators, who worry that the schools are increasingly forced to “teach to the test.” A new generation of the test that began two years ago is now being phased in on the Vineyard after a different test was piloted briefly and then shelved.

And though there is always value to setting benchmarks and monitoring progress against them, some of the resources, focus and energy spent on administering and scoring tests would seem better spent on, well, teaching.

John Merrow, former education correspondent for PBS Newshour and a Vineyard resident, in a recent article outlined eight ideas to improve schools, seven of which would actually save them money. Among these is to declare a three-year moratorium on all machine-scored “bubble tests” during which time the entire community would be invited to debate what matters in schooling.

“The goal is to ‘measure what you value,’ instead of continuing the foolishness of merely valuing what you measure,” he wrote.

The notion seems particularly relevant on the Vineyard, which takes pride as it should in providing its children a safe, nurturing, natural environment in which to grow up. The community’s commitment to the arts, to nature and to personal growth is everywhere evident in the wide array of free and low-cost enrichment programs available to its children.

In his book The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, author and education activist Jonathan Kozol wrote in blistering terms about standardized testing at inner city schools: “There is something deeply hypocritical in a society that holds an inner-city child only eight years old ‘accountable’ for her performance on a high-stakes standardized exam but does not hold the high officials of our government accountable for robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years before.”

In a completely different way, it seems odd and limiting to measure and hold Vineyard children accountable to one set of criteria, the same ones applied to children in Boston and its suburbs. Island children are fortunate to live in an environment where the possibilities for learning are ample and well supported.

That Vineyard kids are performing well on standardized tests is good to hear, but it is surely not the only way — or even the primary way — the Island should be judging the quality of their education.