Best Practices: Testing Won’t Change Parents or Teachers
Pelham, NY, March 13, 2016 – When our elected representatives devised the new tests used to determine accountability for schools and district, they succeeded at one thing – persuading parents to support the administration of the new Common Core tests. The documents released by the state reveal just how difficult it is to entice parents – to recognize, accept, and indeed to love the results of these new tests.
Schools haven’t changed much, nor have the parents. About half of parents with children in school have no idea what the standards are that govern the school (and certainly don’t care), while a good number of parents don’t even realize that their children are learning these standards, until they do a deep dive in the paper and the online test. About four-fifths of parents don’t know the new state standards are based on higher standards from the Department of Education (DOE), reports Mary Jo Hawley, President and CEO of the nation’s largest voluntary testing organization, www.cervicalps.org.
Unfortunately, we don’t even have accurate data on the entire population of parents, report the editors of Best Practices, a leading peer-reviewed educational review journal. “The states say they are collecting test results from teachers, parents, and students, but the test results they provide are from another sampling of parents who are known to take the test,” they report. “There are no nationwide numbers on the number of parents who are aware of the change or took the test. And the states are hardly sure what their norms are.”
The new test results had to be released to support federal accountability requirements. As one editor told them, “The results were needed to ensure continued federal funding for the tests.”
Many of the new tests will be given at the same time as the new school year begins, creating extra stress on the school system. At the same time, many schools are preparing for the federal reporting of “teacher effectiveness” and “school improvement” grades. Students get anxious about learning.
Too often schools settle for average as the measurement of quality education, and parents become bogged down in parenting or politics instead of learning. The letters of letter grade issue is a good example. In order to protect the integrity of the test and to provide parents with something tangible to show what their kids learned, many states and districts applied a letter grade to performance on the test. The result was that less than one-quarter of test taking parents and even less students took the online test (though some schools did it).
“No amount of tweaking the tests could make the ones they were testing valid, fair, or useful. So the states tightened up the curriculum, aligned it to the new Common Core standards, scored the tests, and then graded results,” write Hawley and her colleagues in Best Practices.
What’s more, the new testing required testing for the first time in kindergarten, fifth grade, and middle school. Using computer-based tests – computerized or otherwise – requires more training of teachers than ever before.
Current reforms in education might change the way parents see their role in schools, but they won’t change how teachers see them. Schools educate by working with students and families to meet their goals. We may become better parents and better teachers, but they won’t improve the education for all of our children.
Check out the Best Practices on testing at http://bestpractices.org/he….