North Carolina’s current program of public school student testing needs critical changes to prioritize the seemingly forgotten purpose of assessment- to give each child the right tools for learning.
MEANINGFUL vs. MEANINGLESS TESTING
Schools have long tested children to identify academic challenges, allowing appropriate interventions to be put in place.
Well-designed assessments at critical developmental stages are proven to give beneficial feedback to teachers and families.
However, the most often-used tests only measure certain skills, making them ill-suited to track the progress of children with different strengths and needs.
Further, the majority of tests don’t help teachers plan for their students. Instead, certain scores are used exclusively by education officials to rate teacher and school performance.
WHEN THE STAKES ARE HIGH, CHILDREN LOSE
When funding, salary, and career advancement is tied to student test scores, it’s inevitable that many teachers and administrators turn their focus to “TEACHING THE TEST”.
Students spend weeks on end practicing THE TEST and going over tricks for taking THE TEST, leaving less time for more varied subject matter and acquiring different types of skills.
Between the various assessments conducted each quarter and the massive, multi-component beginning-of-grade (BOG) and end-of-grade (EOG) standardized tests, children are being substantially shortchanged on teaching time.
HIGH STAKES = HIGH ANXIETY
The type of “HIGH STAKES” standardized testing that’s being carried out across the nation takes an enormous psychological toll on students.
Kindergarten students immediately enter the testing pipeline in their first year of school, along with the expectation to perform. The pressure to test well year after year can cause anxiety and negative attitudes towards school.
Standardized tests can’t account for different learners. It’s degrading and humiliating for children with certain developmental issues, or those learning the English language, to take tests they are certain to fail.
SEE FOR YOURSELF.
Volunteer to proctor an exam at one of your district schools. Experience first-hand the agony of third graders struggling through four solid hours of testing with no break.”
Testing practices that reward teachers and schools DO NOT increase student achievement.*
*National Research Council 2011. Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education. Washington D.C.: The National Academies Press. link
CONCLUSION: “TEACHING the TEST” does not improve overall student achievement.
Why should I care?
My kid has already graduated college and his days of filling out bubble sheets are long gone. Why is standardized testing such a big issue now?
Public school testing has far-reaching implications for all citizens of North Carolina, whether you have school-aged children or not.
- Taxpayers spend millions of $ on testing that has minimal or no value for our children.
- “TEACHING THE TEST” stifles teacher creativity, their ability to reach individual students, and the appeal of teaching as a profession.
- North Carolina needs to have a competitive edge in terms of a high-quality educated workforce, making it an attractive hub for both research and commerce.
We are seeking efficient, equitable, informative, and evidence-based testing practices that will serve as appropriate benchmarks for student progress.
Through school testing reform we can:
- invest in the most appropriate and worthwhile assessments
- restore more instructional time to the classroom
- ensure the future success of our citizens by providing the right educational tools for each student.
YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!
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