Study says students take 112.3 tests between Pre-K and grade 12
Just last week, The Council of the Great City Schools, an organization of the nation's largest urban public school systems, released the first comprehensive survey of testing . The study looked at 66 major public school systems, finding that students took over 401 exams and sat for tests more than 6,570 times during the 2014-2015 school year. The results were clear. Standardized testing is overwhelming our public schools.
Testing is among one of the most debated issues in public education today. It's astounding that students sit through absurd numbers of tests when there is no evidence that copious testing will improve student achievement. In the study by The Council of Great City Schools, correlations show that there is no relationship between testing time and performance. Data consisting of testing time for elementary school students and their performance on mandated math and reading exams show no relationship. This suggests that increasing the number of or frequency of assessments does not improve student achievement.
The study finds that there is redundancy in the exams districts give. According to the study, students take roughly eight standardized tests annually from Pre-K to grade 12 and many of these tests are on the same subjects. The findings also suggest that some tests are not well aligned to each other or with college-readiness standards. Additionally, most tests do not assess student mastery of any specific content. So why do we still use them?
After Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, states were required to test all students in math and reading annually from third to eighth grade, and once in high school. When states failed to make academic progress as determined by the resulting test scores, they faced sanctions. So states and districts decided that adding new tests every year would keep students on track. Under President Obama's Race to the Top program, states had to evaluate teachers using student test scores in order to win a grant. Federal law already requires standardized tests in math and reading, so states added tests in other subject areas to use in their evaluations.
None of this is to say that all tests are bad tests. There is an appropriate place for tests. But they should not be the only factor used to measure student achievement or evaluate teachers, especially if many are just unnecessary burdens. "I think Montgomery County is doing a good job of looking at test data and making sure it's part of how we evaluate teachers, but it's not the whole story," Currence said. Recently, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) decided to shorten standardized tests such as Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and to eliminate county finals in the upcoming school year. These are small yet crucial steps toward progressing to a school system where tests no longer incite harrowing stress and utter chaos among students, parents and teachers alike.
Randima Herath. Hi, my name is Randi and in my free time, I like binge-watching Grey's Anatomy, singing, and procrastinating on homework. More »