This rant on testing is two years old. To put it in context, I wrote this one morning when I was fed up, around the time when PARCC first hit many districts around the country. I still feel the same way, and hope to see it become less of a time and energy suck. The post may be a little stale, but unfortunately still relevant. For your viewing pleasure, I #postmydraft.
Yesterday, in one of my Voxer groups, there was a heated discussion on standardized testing. It was a discussion, not a debate, because nobody was advocating for the insane amount of testing currently going on in our schools. Come to think of it, I’ve never met an educator who has said, “now now, guys, all this testing is really awesome! Here’s why!” *crickets* Remember, we are the professionals, and often the adults who spend the most waking hours with children. We teachers know what we are talking about; but I have yet to meet an educator who thinks all of this testing is reasonable.
Testing does have a place; this is not it.
Formative assessment on a classroom level is very helpful to see where students currently stand, and how to best meet their needs. Even the occasional summative standardized test can serve a constructive purpose, to see how much students have grown over the course of a school year. However, according to the New York Times, states such as Florida may devote 60 to 80 of the 180 school day calendar to testing. This is an extreme, and thankfully most of us are not in this situation; however, I feel for the teachers and students of Florida. Even losing a third of that time is a whole month of school. Imagine what can be taught in one month…this could be an entire instructional unit.
If we must have standardized tests, can we at least get it right? To me, the ideal standardized test would be short, sweet, formative, and low-risk for all stakeholders, as many factors can influence a student’s score. For example, I’ve heard of students who traditionally scored high proficient fall to basic on an end-of-year test, perhaps because they were not feeling well that day. This has a huge potential for negative implications, perhaps even relegating students to low tracks. Even worse, I wonder how these scarlet letters of testing affect their self-image. This kills me.
Why is there this war on our students? I would say because of money, but that’s a whole different post. Why aren’t the professionals being trusted to make the important decisions? I hope to explore this topic more in a follow-up post. I invite you to weigh in below.