Thank you for Citizen Stuart for your October 2015 post that references the continued testing debate. I can appreciate President Obama’s then measured stance and now evolution on standardized testing. I too worry about the shift in his rhetoric, and the public’s growing sentiment that seems to be moving in the opposite direction of progress and evolution of healthy, balanced and consistent measures of academic progress for our children. I am concerned that this shift has caused people to reflexively abandon hope that testing is a critical tool to evaluate the learning process. I have heard some interesting opportunities to complement testing with other measures like surveys, or other data that create a comprehensive picture of a child’s ability.
I am appreciative of the Federal guidelines under ESSA/ESEA that provides help to organizations, states and schools who are taking this debate seriously and trying to reduce unnecessary testing, and improve quality of the measures we use to drive accountability and academic outcomes. A clearer perspective in plain language is needed to help us delineate the difference between testing that actually helps track critical student progress, and that which should be required to ensure that adequate performance is maintained.
It is vexing to see so many people (parents, organizations and other stakeholders) continue to be misled about the various tests, who mandates them, and what their purpose is. It wasn’t until my middle son was graduating high school from an IB program in Seattle and our youngest was entering middle school (taking his first SBAK series) that we truly understood how they were doing.
As I listened to those lobbying me to “opt out”, I started researching what and why this is such a hot issue. I realized that unfortunately there is a fair amount of hype, fear mongering, and tactics to convince people like me that testing across the board is evil, and that it was somehow harming my children. I realized that it is time to be dubious about claims that progress can be made without consistent measures, particularly for historically underserved students like mine, and that I should be curious about the tests my children are taking, inquire about who is requesting them, for what and why, and if there is still confusion, get some help to understand before jumping on the anti testing bandwagon.