An article by Rebecca Horvath appeared recently in the Johnson City Press and focused on this year’s TNReady debacle. Horvath suggests a “culture of testing” dictates policy that doesn’t serve our students or teachers well.
Here’s a bit of what she has to say:
Nearby middle schoolers were faced with low-powered computers that had to be charged before their tests could begin. Then, they spent two hours trying to submit their tests via the crashed state site, through their lunch time, only to have to return after a late lunch and submit them. (Teachers are not allowed to submit them.) Some students waited 90 minutes for the first part of their test to be submitted online so they could continue with the second part. Can you imagine the stress and frustration for students and teachers?
So, students across the state have spent the entire school year preparing for these tests – the curriculum is designed around them – hearing about how important they are, even having the very school calendar based on testing dates, only to encounter problems immediately.
Every hour lost to testing difficulties is wasting tax dollars, increasing the already heavy stress on teachers and frustrating students and parents.
What, exactly, is the purpose here?
Having a way to assess student progress and success is important, of course. We have to be able to see what areas need improvement and what our schools do well. Standardized tests have been around for a long time, but the pressure and the culture that permeates the entire educational system is new. But tests should be tools, not weapons.
As I’ve written before, we keep moving forward with testing despite years of problems.
It’s also worth noting that the threat of financial penalties is essentially an empty one — unless the state absolutely insists on withholding money from schools for problems the state caused. There’s almost no chance any federal funds would be lost. I’d suggest local districts stand up and push back more aggressively.
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