Standardized Testing

Stop the Spring Tests! Support the Children!

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Ann Cook, executive director and co-founder of the New York State Performance Standards Consortium, and Phyllis Tashlik, director of the Consortium’s Center for Inquiry in Teaching and Learning, argue in this article in the New York Daily News that the spring testing should be canceled. The Consortium, a group of a few dozen high schools in New York, has an exemption from most state testing and has produced better academic outcomes (graduation rates, college entry, college retention) than the other public schools in the city with similar students. My guess is that they could make a powerful argument that standardized testing is unnecessary and wasteful.

Across the country, national and local groups — including the majority of parents — are calling on the federal government to waive standardized testing requirements for states in the spring. New York should be one of the leaders of that effort. Instead, it remains one of only 10 states to link standardized exams, in this case Regents exams, to high school graduation.

We’re in the throes of a pandemic with no consistency to school attendance, WiFi reception, or access to computers. In this climate, not only would a fresh round of standardized tests lack any validity or reliability, they would be a tragic waste of resources and effort...

Instead, let’s use stretched budgets to educate kids in ways that will support them and better meet their very real and critical needs, both academic and emotional...

Why outsource questions about what students know and can do to companies that produce standardized tests — commercial publishers that don’t know our students or our schools? ..

Good assessments grow out of curriculum, and provide deeper inquiry into subjects instead of relying on multiple-choice and formulaic essays. When assessments are imposed arbitrarily, they just encourage simplistic and rote teaching and create rigid categories of “winners” and “losers.”

We need to use this crisis to reimagine what school can be. Instead of going backwards to policies that serve to sort and rank kids, we need to value higher goals for instruction, gain a deeper appreciation for what learning is, and show respect for kids’ individual talents and interests...

We face enormous challenges as we transition to a post-COVID world. There’s been plenty of talk about social and emotional learning, but we need to do more than just talk. Students need to feel empowered so they can believe in themselves again. That will be the best way to help. More standardized testing will only disempower them and rob them of what they need most — our time, our commitment, our belief in their capacity to learn and grow.

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