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Education News Update: Are Standardized Tests Getting the Axe?

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Close your eyes for a minute and daydream about a world without bubble tests. Education Week recently reported that some Republican Senate aides are doing more than dreaming — they’re drafting a bill that would eliminate the federal mandate on standardized testing.

– Anya Kamenetz, NPR

(To read the full Education Week article by Alyson Klein, please see: “GOP Senate Aides Working on Draft ESEA Bill That Could Ditch Annual Testing”)

Ever since the passing of No Child Left Behind,  teachers, administrators, parents, students, and policy experts have been working to understand—to definitively know—whether or not it’s done more harm than good (or vice versa). Well, when the issue recently came back before Congress for renewal, Senate Republicans released their new vision for U.S. public education in 2015: Instead of renewing the federal mandate for annual, standardized testing, they “would leave decisions about testing schedules up to states.

And while The Council of Chief State School Officers, national teachers unions, many traditionally Democratic groups, and many of the country’s largest school districts have come out in favor of reducing or doing away with standardized tests—as NPR’s Anya Kamenetz explains in “What Schools Could Use Instead of Standardized Tests”—what’s still missing from this conversation is what might replace annual standardized tests.  To this end, Kamenetz suggests four possible options:

  1. Sampling: Keep standardized tests, but just reduce the number of them.
  2. Stealth Assessment: Use software provided by major textbook publishers in order to invisibly monitor and assess children’s learning.
  3. Multiple Measures: Rather than just test scores, data on everything from graduation rates to demographics to workforce outcomes ought to be collected and considered. Schools could even begin issuing surveys to consider elements like “grit” and “optimism,” or games to help assess a student’s creativity and other higher-order skills.
  4. Inspections: Perhaps in addition to some or all of the above measures, the government could also create a team of inspectors who function for schools almost the same way that health inspectors function for restaurants. These officials might observe classrooms, examine syllabi, evaluate student projects, and interview students, staff members, and faculty.

(To read Anya Kamenetz’s full article, visit: “What Schools Could Use Instead of Standardized Tests”)

What are your opinions on standardized testing? Do you think we should keep annual exams? If not, what might you suggest in substitute?

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1 Comment

  1. Reblogged this on Stephanie Poppins and commented:
    This is about education in the States but raises some valid points – we need to start openly discussing and considering the brilliant alternatives to standardized testing in our schools!

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