What if instead of spending our time and energy being adversarial, we instead spent our time being collaborative? We all agree there is too much testing and not enough local control. Maybe it’s time to take a different tactic and forge a new path.
What is being left out of this conversation are changes in federal education policy that just occurred with the Every Student Succeeds Act. There are no longer any punitive consequences for districts or schools as there once were under No Child Left Behind; the only mandate is that all children grades three to eight and once in high school be tested in English or math. What if students in high school had the option of taking the PSAT, SAT or AP test and having that count as their high school assessment?
What is also being left out of the conversation is that the state can design its own test and choose what time of the year to administer it. What if Frederick County Public Schools designed its own tests that met the state guidelines? What if we simply allow panels of experts and teachers design the state tests for each grade level? What if those tests were administered at the beginning of the year instead of later in the year?
What if those tests were then actually useful tools for our classroom teachers in terms of assessing where their students were so as to allow them to better refine where to begin with instruction at the beginning of the school year?
What if those test scores were released to parents so that they knew best where to support their child in their learning over the course of the school year?
What if the test were actually an informative tool for teachers, students and parents, and not just some global score for the school, the district and the state?
What if we stopped teaching to the test, and started teaching from the test, from the point where students are in terms of the knowledge they enter the school year with?
Lastly, what if special education teachers designed various tests for differing levels of special-needs students so that instruction could be better designed by the teacher to meet those students’ needs? What if that test already met the standards to be the annual assessment in special education? What if that test already existed? Check here: www.edweek.org/media/nweamyths-blog.pdf.
We’re fighting a losing battle with the State Board of Education and wasting time on our children’s educational clock, when maybe all we need to do is agree to go on a different path that actually gives all of us useful information in a more timely manner that can actually be used to benefit instruction for their coming school year for all our children.