In case you’re looking for some verbiage about testing, I encourage you to plagiarize my own verbiage below–edit, revise, omit, do whatever, but I’m giving you full permission to pull whatever you’d like/need and send it to your local papers.
My anti-excessive testing letter:
It is always interesting to me that the quality of our education system, as determined by test scores, is defined by individuals far removed from the classroom. For the most part, educational policies are set by politicians whose only experience in a school system was from kindergarten to 12th grade – which happened ten, twenty, thirty, even forty years ago when we were in a different place and in a different time.
These same individuals seemingly claim to know the cure for all our educational ills: use a high-pressure, high-stakes standardized testing system to identify weaknesses, create mandates to force changes to fix those weaknesses, and once improvements in test scores are evident (either as a result of forced mandates or not), make the test harder, create more mandates, see improvements, revise again. The cycle is always the same, and the target for learning is always moving. On the surface, increased scores look like students are learning and improved scores look like the mandates are working, but increased scores can mean a multitude of things. Yes, it could mean improvements in learning, but at what cost? These increases might also indicate excessive test preparation, test-taking strategy preparation, a narrowed curriculum focused on testable content only, and more.
The field of teaching is shifting and changing. Teachers today know more about kids and how they learn; they better understand that kids need to learn through experience; they know there are more ways than standardized assessments to evaluate learning; they see students as individual people who come to school with individual issues and have individual needs that go above and beyond what is shown through a single test score.
As standardized testing season comes to an end, I’m asking – and will continue to ask – if the right people are making decisions about how best to educate our children. Are they taking into consideration what decades of research says about what is best for children? Is this the best system for making sure students are learning, or is this the system we simply accept because it is the easiest way to gather quick data and make quick decisions?
Is a system based on excessive repeated testing and constantly moving targets the kind of system that will prepare kids for the world ahead of them?
As submitted to Columbus Dispatch, Akron Beacon Journal, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Medina Gazette.