Dear Commons Community,
In a colossal admission, President Obama said today that he and the US Department of Education bear some of the responsibility for the testing mania that has gripped the country. As reported by CNN:
“Obama said new guidelines will be issued that call for taking only the “tests that are worth taking”– that are “high quality, aimed at good instruction” and that ensure students are “on track.”
The guidelines recommend that students spend no more than 2% of classroom time taking these tests, and that parents be notified if their child’s school exceeds this limit.
Testing shouldn’t “crowd out teaching and learning” and should just be one of many tools to measure how students and schools are performing, Obama said.
On Monday, Obama will meet with teachers and representatives of states and school districts to discuss the issue. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his deputy, John King, are expected to attend.
The Washington-based Council of Great City Schools said in a report issued today that “there is no correlation between mandated testing time and reading math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton welcomed the announcement stating:
“I embrace the principles laid out today by the Obama Administration because they move us in the right direction,” her campaign said in a statement. “Standardized tests must be worth taking, high quality, time-limited, fair, fully transparent to students and parents, just one of multiple measures, and tied to improving learning.”
While better late than never, this is a long overdue change in policy. Educators, parents and students have been clamoring against excessive testing since the mandates of No Child Left Behind legislation were implemented in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, too many policymakers with minimal education experience including Arne Duncan were driven more by ideology than by sound practice. This is a first step and more still needs to be done to reduce the testing and test-prep curricula that permeate throughout so many of our schools.