New Student Assessments Are Accompanied by Bigger Questions

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, just as public school systems in Maryland and other states prepare to give longer and more challenging standardized tests this spring, a national debate has erupted over just how many hours students should be tested in a year.  As reported in the article,

“I think what you are seeing across the country is this backlash against state testing,” said Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance, who believes there may be moves in coming years to reduce federally mandated testing.

This year, an eighth-grader in the Baltimore area will spend from 14 to 46 hours taking tests, depending on which school district he or she is in. And that doesn’t include the tests teachers write and grade themselves — that pop quiz on “The Scarlet Letter” in English or fractions in an elementary school math class.

A recent study by The Center for American Progress, Testing Overload in America’s Schools, found the following:

  • Despite the perception that federally mandated state testing is the root of the issue, districts require more tests than states.
  • Students are tested as frequently as twice per month and an average of once per month.
  • Actual test administration takes up a small fraction of learning time.
  • There is a culture of testing and test preparation in schools that does not put students first.
  • District-level testing occurs more frequently and takes up more learning time in urban districts than in suburban districts.
  • Districts are not transparent about testing practices or purposes.

For more information, see the full story from the Sun and The Center for American Progress.