Standardized Tests

LESS TESTING AND YES…MORE RECESS

In October 2015, a two-year study showed the average student in America’s big-city public schools was taking an average of about eight tests over 20-25 hours per year. Yet, these tests have not been shown to even shape, let alone help, academic outcomes. The over-the-top focus on standardized teaching has instead, reduced autonomy and enjoyment for teachers, and sometimes, made school less relevant for students.

A more valuable approach would be to increase the amount of time students have to play. The American Academy of Pediatrics have said, “recess can be a critical time for development and social interaction” and “children need to have downtime between complex cognitive challenges” and “they tend to be less able to process information the longer they are held to a task”…they “actually have to take a break.” Children, it turns out, need to be allowed to be children.

In Arizona, we have a high stakes exit exam for third graders. According to Professor David Berliner, the IREAD-3 , is misused to retain third grade students who are struggling with reading.

“..research demonstrates that retention policies are disproportionately directed at those who are poor, male, English language learners, and children of color..We believe that only ignorant and cruel people would support such a policy.”

Dr. David Berliner and Dr Gene Glass

In an interview about their book, 50 Myths & Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools, Berliner and Dr. Gene Glass talk with Larry Ferlazzo about the flaws of the 3rd grade retention state policy:

“..It is a myth that leaving a child back in grade who is not doing well academically is good for the child. It provides the child with “the gift of time” to catch up. We believe that only ignorant and cruel people would support such a policy.” Research has consistently shown that for the vast majority of the children retention in grade has either no benefit, or is detrimental. Only rarely does retention benefit the child who was left back. So the research overwhelming suggests that those who recommend retention are likely to be ignorant.

“Second, an important piece of the rationale for retention policies is that if you cannot read well by third grade you are more likely to be a school failure. But reading expert Stephen Krashen disputes this, citing research on 12 young students with serious reading problems, dyslexics all. Eleven of the twelve did not learn to read well until they were between 10 and 12 years of age, and one did not learn to read until he was in 12th grade. Among these slow learners, all of whom would have been left back in Florida and Arizona, were nine who published creative scholarly works, and one who became a Nobel laureate. So not doing well by third grade does not determine one’s destiny.

Third, research demonstrates that retention policies are disproportionately directed at those who are poor, male, English language learners, and children of color.”

In a statement to congress the Seattle NAACP stated,

“Using standardized tests to label Black people and immigrants as lesser—while systematically underfunding their schools—has a long and ugly history. It is true we need accountability measures, but that should start with politicians being accountable to fully funding education and ending the opportunity gap. …The use of high-stakes tests has become part of the problem, rather than a solution.”

Resources:

Follow us on Twitter @voices4ed

FairTest

United Opt Out The Movement to End Corporate Education Reform

A quick word about Dr. Gene Glass and Dr. David Berliner-we are blessed in Arizona to have these two (now retired) brilliant scholars. If there are two pieces of advice I would like to give to our state Legislature and Governor, it would be to read their book: 50 Myths and Lies that are destroying Public Education. 2nd: Never create education policy without consulting one of them.

Gene V. Glass: Education in Two Worlds Blog

David Berliner 50 Myths and Lies video

Diane Ravitch and High Stakes Tests

Alfie Kohn Performance and Learning-the Costs of Over-Emphasizing Achievement (video)

Nancy Carlsson-Paige Recliaiming Play: Helping Children Learn and Thrive in School

A parent’s experience with opting out in Arizona

 

RESOLUTION ON HIGH-STAKES TESTING

This resolution is modeled on the resolution passed by more than more than 881 Texas school boards as of January 2013. It was written by Advancement Project; Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; FairTest; Forum for Education and Democracy; MecklenburgACTS; Deborah Meier; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; National Education Association; New York Performance Standards Consortium; Tracy Novick; Parents Across America; Parents United for Responsible Education-Chicago; Diane Ravitch; Race to Nowhere; Time Out From Testing; and United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries..

We encourage organizations and individuals to publicly endorse it (see below). Organizations should modify it as needed for their local circumstances while also endorsing this national version. The resolution will be used by FairTest  and Voices for Education to fight testing on a state and national level.  FairTest (through Time Out for Testing) and Voices for Education are using the same resolution so your name and email will be on both endorsing lists.

View our resolution below, or download a printable PDF version here.

Get your school district to sign on. Let us know.

WHEREAS, our nation’s future well-being relies on a high-quality public education system that prepares all students for college, careers, citizenship and lifelong learning, and strengthens the nation’s social and economic well-being; and

WHEREAS, our nation’s school systems have been spending growing amounts of time, money and energy on high-stakes standardized testing, in which student performance on standardized tests is used to make major decisions affecting individual students, educators and schools; and

WHEREAS, the over-reliance on high-stakes standardized testing, including the AIMS test, in state and federal accountability systems is undermining educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools by hampering educators’ efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and deep subject-matter knowledge that will allow students to thrive in a democracy and an increasingly global society and economy; and

WHEREAS, it is widely recognized that standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness; and

WHEREAS, the over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools, including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving excellent teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate; and

WHEREAS, high-stakes standardized testing has negative effects for students from all backgrounds, and especially for low-income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the culture and structure of the systems in which students learn must change in order to foster engaging school experiences that promote joy in learning, depth of thought and breadth of knowledge for students; therefore be it

RESOLVED that the undersigned call on the governor, state legislature and state education boards and administrators to enact a three year moratorium while they reexamine public school accountability systems in Arizona, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment which does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools; and

RESOLVED, that we call on the U.S. Congress and Administration to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as the “No Child Left Behind Act”), reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.

Name

Organization (if not signing as individual)