Here is one English teacher’s take on how teachers can begin to end the reliance on testing in K-12.
It wasn’t that long ago that suggesting America’s schools had become test-obsessed was a lonely endeavor. Although organizations like FairTest and campaigns like Time Out From Testing have been decrying the flawed logic behind high-stakes tests for years, the reality is that for the past decade, many of us kept our complaints reserved for the privacy of the parking lot.
People vented. Policymakers nodded. And absent any real noise, the tests continued.
In 2008, however, the election of Barack Obama seemed to augur a new era. All along the campaign trail, the Illinois senator suggested a clear understanding of the ways a single measure of success can distort an entire system and narrow the learning opportunities for children. Then he made history by becoming the nation’s 44th president — and unveiling a series of education policies that further entrenched America’s reliance on reading and math scores as a proxy for whole-school evaluation.
Again, the people vented. But this time, policymakers have been unable to ignore a groundswell of noise and resistance, leading many to wonder: Has a tipping point been reached? Are we witnessing the early signs of a sea change in how we think about the best ways to measure student learning and growth?
Consider three separate data points as evidence: Maryland, where the superintendent of the state’s largest district of schools has called for a three-year moratorium on standardized tests; Washington, where one school’s decision to boycott its state tests has spread to other schools and communities; and Texas, where a proposed Senate bill would significantly reduce the number of state standardized tests students must pass to graduate.
In all three places — and many more across the country — what’s changed is a growing willingness to publicly acknowledge what FairTest has argued for years: that tests do not align well with the latest research into how people learn; that they prevent adults from measuring higher-level thinking in children; and, most importantly, that there are better ways to evaluate student learning and growth.
Continue reading about steps to bring an end to school testing obsession.