Doing More With Less

The Council of the Great City Schools recently released a report analyzing the amount of testing administered across city schools.  According to the report, students spend roughly 20-25 hours per year on a variety of mandated assessments – some federally mandated and some mandated by a particular state of district.  Over a student’s lifetime that adds up to hundreds and hundreds of hours spent testing.

If that strikes you as excessive you’re not alone; and on Saturday the Obama administration argued that standardized testing should take up no more than 2% of class time:

‘‘Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble,’’ President Obama said in a video posted on Facebook. ‘‘So we’re going to work with states, school districts, teachers and parents to make sure that we’re not obsessing about testing.’’

Obama said in “moderation, smart, strategic” tests can help assess the progress of children in schools and help them learn. But he said that parents are concerned that too much time is being spent on testing, and teachers are under too much pressure to prepare students for exams.

The President’s call to reduce the amount of standardized testing reflects the concerns of parents and educators around the country, that students are spending far too much time in high stakes tests.  That being said, it would be far better to do more with the tests we already have rather than testing more.  Assessments linked to developmental scales, like the Lexile Framework for Reading, provide educators a range of possibilities.  Having access to a student’s Lexile measures means being able to not only monitor the student’s reading growth, but being able to differentiate for and target that student in an appropriate way.  As Obama argued, there’s a place for smart, strategic tests, assessments that equip teachers with the information they need to keep students learning.

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