Teachers want less emphasis on testing and more on mastering skills and high-level concepts.
The number of standardized tests students have to take is about to increase, but the according to a national survey from Scholastic and the Gates Foundation, the nation’s teachers overwhelmingly don’t see the high-stakes exams as essential.
The survey asked more than 10,000 educators about their classrooms, schools, and how student and teacher performances should be measured. A huge majority of teachers believe in measuring student achievement, but they believe it should be measured with a variety of assessments, not just standardized tests. The majority—62 percent—believe that formative assessments, which are quizzes, tests, observations, summaries, and reviews that give students feedback and help teachers hone their classroom instruction, are essential to student achievement. In comparison, only 7 percent of educators see standardized tests as being essential.
“There needs to be less emphasis on mastering a test, and more emphasis on mastering the skills and higher-level concepts in the core subjects,” wrote one New Mexico teacher. The teacher emphasis on formative assessments makes sense, since those ongoing checks for student understanding help educators decide whether they need to spend more time on a particular subject, or if their class is ready to move on to another concept. With standardized tests, students often don’t get their results until months after they’ve taken them—which often ends up being after the school year is over, making them much less useful to the learning process.
The survey begs the question: If growing numbers of parents are considering opting out of standardized testing, and teachers themselves don't believe high stakes tests as essential to learning, why are we ramping up the amount of testing in our schools?