Emphasis on Testing Needs to Change - Dr. Clifford
We are a nation and a state with an over-emphasis on testing! This myopic focus on test, testing, and tested has got to change.
Teachers spend an exorbitant amount of energy and education preparing students for and taking tests. All of the 16 public school districts in Montgomery County look forward to being held accountable. We have high expectations for all of our students. We focus on student growth, graduation, and career goals. We are developing students’ curiosity and imaginations and creating critical thinkers and problem-solvers.
Our students are developing effective oral and written communication skills, leadership and collaboration skills, and the ability to access and analyze information. We recognize that every student learns in a different way, and we teach to the unique styles of each student. We help our students realize that a high school diploma isn’t the first step, but the first chapter for lifelong learning.
Everything measurable is not important. Everything important is not measurable. Our current state report card is “undecipherable” to parents and community stakeholders. “Just Say No” to the “one-size-fits-all” mentality, mindset, and absent-minded value-added approach of the state report card and its focus on the 3 R’s – rating, ranking, and ridiculousness – which is at best misleading and inaccurate.
Regarding the current state report card, Senator Peggy Lehner, Chairperson of the Senate Education Committee, said, “We are in a transition period, which means the test results do not reflect the actual performance of the district, and we don’t expect the data to be reliable for another year or two.”
Another testing controversy: Online versus Paper and Pencil test results. School districts throughout the State of Ohio were led to believe that the move to an online testing format was eminent - if not this year, then the next. We heard that if you have the technology infrastructure and hardware to test online, you had better do it.
After taking the most recent state tests, there is significant data to suggest that a difference exists between the results of those who were tested online versus paper and pencil. The psychometricians will tell you the test questions were similar for both types of test; the educators will tell you that the testing protocol makes a tremendous difference. Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome. Bottom line – all of the online and paper and pencil test results were comingled into one state report card to provide more misleading information.
There might be hope. The recent reauthorization of the Federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a good first step – with the exception of the continued focus on and excessive amount of mandated testing. States have now been given more “leeway and responsibility” to drive educational decision-making and accountability to the local level. Let’s collectively, collaboratively, and cohesively develop an accountability system that is not “one-size-fits-all” but “one-that-fits-for-all” students, parents, and stakeholders.