By now, you have probably seen or read about the Obama Administration’s announcement on K12 assessments (if not, watch President Obama’s video statement here). The Administration intends to work with schools and districts to ensure tests meet three principles: tests are worth taking; they don’t take too much classroom time; and they serve as only one source of information in creating the whole picture of a student. The Education Department website features the action plan spelled out in more detail.
We asked some of the teachers who regularly blog with us to weigh in below. Here’s what they had to say.
“Maximizing learning should be the driving focus for all students and teachers. The purpose of assessments is to gauge the growth of students, and while we do not want to be limited to a few singular data points, with the use of technology we can capture this learning data more seamlessly daily.
Instead of the continual pull out for standardized assessments, we can have students who are engaged and participating in the best practices being utilized by teachers throughout our country.
Student performance should be measured on authentic learning opportunities, ranging from differentiated instruction, to project based learning, academic, social emotional learning, and more. We can help foster student learning daily in classrooms nationwide.
I am excited by Obama’s statements — as teachers, we want the focus to return to the classroom and the student learning opportunities provided on a daily basis.”
Chris Hull, middle school social studies teacher, Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @OtusHull.
“On the surface, the plan has merit, and we are pleased that the Administration is seeing problems with the high-stakes testing culture that permeates education. It might be argued that Washington is late to the game as many states have already begun working in this arena.
While accountability and rigor must always be important, and the ability to accurately assess student skill level and content mastery is vital, the recognition of the pendulum over swinging into ‘too much’ testing is long overdue.
The rising concern in this new plan is the ‘how’ of implementation. The Federal government’s record in this area is sketchy at best. No Child Left Behind is a prime example, and it is usually pointed to as the genesis of current high-stakes testing. Federal bureaucracy has rarely lessened classroom mandates or streamlined teaching.
The Administration would be well-served to move planning for this issue to the state and local level where direct, community and district-based solutions can be achieved. Creating another federal program with a one-size-fits-all approach will be a giant step backward.”
Ruth Schackmann, middle school English/Language Arts teacher and educational consultant, and Randy Schackmann, school board trustee, Texas.