As the scholarly debate about the extent and purpose of educational testing rages on, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) wants to hear from you. During a key session at its Centennial Conference this spring in Washington DC, titled How Much Testing and for What Purpose? Public Scholarship in the Debate about Educational Assessment and Accountability, prominent educational researchers will respond to questions and concerns raised by YOU, parents, students, teachers, community members, and public at large.
Hence, any and all of you with an interest in testing, value-added modeling, educational assessment, educational accountability policies, and the like are invited to post your questions, concerns, and comments using the hashtag #HowMuchTesting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or the social media platform of your choice, as these are the posts to which AERA’s panelists will respond.
Organizers are interested in all #HowMuchTesting posts, but they are particularly interested in video-recorded questions and comments of 30 – 45 seconds in duration so that you can ask your own questions, rather than having it read by a moderator. In addition, in order to provide ample time for the panel of experts to prepare for the discussion, comments and questions posted by March 17 have the best chances for inclusion in the debate.
Thank you all in advance for your contributions!!
To read more about this session, from the session’s organizer, click here.
I taught in the public schools in California for thirty years and the ONLY tests should be created by classroom teachers and used by those teachers to access their own teaching and what their students are learning in real time. All other testing must stop and that includes the international PISA test. The only test I will agree to is the NAEP Nations Report Card—a test that is not used to rank and fire teachers or close public schools.
Thanks for adding to the conversation, Lloyd! You’ve really hit on the purpose of testing in your comment. I hear you saying that tests need to be used by teachers to inform and improve their own teaching. Some advocates of large scale standardized tests claim that those tests provide the same benefits. In fact, much of the testing that we see now was put in place in an attempt to improve instruction for all students. In your experience, to what extent have large scale tests accomplished that goal?
I absolutely have concluded there there is now too much testing and most of it is inappropriate for age. The purposes behind it appear more political and economic rather than for the student’s benefit. It has lost its legitimacy. It is a shameful WASTE of resources when budgets are limited. How can this be acceptable? Children huddle in cold mold infested buildings with asbestos roofing falling in? There are idealistic but clueless college graduates with no real teaching experience “teaching” them? They are bussed early in the am to far away “charter schools” where they are treated like slaves and brainwashed? What he HELL have we allowed to happen!! Education free and public and well funded for all is the basic pillar of the country. Without it there is NO HOPE for betterment and the promise and then premise of AMERICA dies. You know we have a problem when you are getting comments like mine from well educated, voting, suburban mothers! We are a democracy not a plutocracy.
Most parents don’t realize how much testing is going on. There are not only yearly tests by state in every grade, but frequent internal testing within the school (usually Pearson) two to three times per school year. This is in addition to more summative, high-stakes exams in your child’s classes (less frequent tests that count for more of their grade). This takes HOURS out of classroom instruction time, and it usually means an added “drill-and-kill” enrichment (test prep) class added onto the school day. As a teacher of high schoolers, I think that students are at school to learn and grow–not sit and take tests and prepare for tests all day, every day. It isn’t their job to help the school earn a better rating or keep teachers employed by scoring more points. Kids are not test-bubbling production workers. We have to stop punishing them and their schools on test scores.
Four decades of experience in the public schools taught me this lesson very clearly: Assessment should be the measure of INSTRUCTION. Assessments should be created by the teachers, based on what was taught in their classrooms. A solid curriculum with clear objectives should be the foundation of teacher-created instruction and assessment. Can teachers, working collaboratively within a school, design testing? Of course. But should a book-selling company write the tests in order to sell its books? Never! During my final years of teaching my students tested (per week): 30 minutes on spelling, 30 minutes on grammar, 75 minutes on reading, 50 minutes on math, PLUS pre-tests in those areas PLUS any content-driven testing in science and social studies. Every five weeks would earn those kids another 120 minutes in reading testing and 60 minutes in math testing. Every fall would see three days given over to district-wide testing in math and language arts. Every spring would see three more days given to state-wide testing to the same. Two percent?? Try TWENTY!! Until school boards develop the backbone to tell the feds and state to back out of it and let their teachers assess the curriculum they want taught, “education” will be only about number-crunching and selling “programs”. Return the control of the schools to the professional educators.
Thanks for this comment, Jean! You’ve hit on several issues here, from the alignment of tests with instruction, to the amount of time spent on testing and test-related activities, to the amount of educational control that seems to pushing its way into the classroom from outside interests. In your experience, how have you seen these things affect the students you have worked with?
There’s so much testing here. It’s depressing. Today, some of my kids are being pulled for a test while we’re practicing for another test and Tuesday we’re taking a mock writing test and tomorrow a reading reassessment test and another day next week a computer-based reading quiz. That is how most of our weeks go. Teaching days are few and far between.