In recent years, there has been significant backlash among parents and educators against the testing standards imposed by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Teachers complain of spending too much time testing and too much time teaching to those tests.
Many think the testing content is redundant, and test results take months to return, making them largely useless for improving instructional quality and student learning. Further, policymakers often misuse test results as measures of overall school proficiency and teacher evaluation, leading to what opponents deem the unproductive “test and punish” model.
Problems With Standardized Testing
There are many problems with standardized testing, but until recently, there has been very little research to substantiate parents’ and teachers’ concerns. However, recent studies offer conclusive evidence to back up these concerns, and governmental bodies including Congress, the Department of Education and even President Obama have started to acknowledge these problems and take steps to remedy them.
Despite conclusive evidence on the issue, there is still a lot to do to make standardized tests the useful measurement and accountability tools that policymakers intended. Candidates for a Master of Arts in Educational Administration degree will spend time studying these tests in the context of research and development in educational policy.
Test Prep Replaces Instruction
According to Education Week, the Council of the Great City Schools recently released the most comprehensive report on standardized testing; its findings shed light on many of the problems with standardized testing. Eighth grade students in the urban districts included in the study spend, on average, 25.3 hours taking mandatory tests per year (not counting optional tests teachers use to evaluate student progress specific to course content).
Unhelpful and Incorrectly Applied Results
Because it takes so long for schools to receive standardized test results, they become less useful in assessing student progress and taking action to improve student learning. Moreover, these results often affect areas they were not intended to assess, such as teacher evaluations. The report highlights these and many other problems with standardized tests.
A Call for Reduction
In response to current research data, educator concerns and widespread parental backlash, governmental entities have called for cutting back on overtesting and reducing the testing and school accountability emphasis in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Yet, most educators agree that rigorous standardized assessment, executed properly, is an important part of student education.
To address this, many organizations such as the Council of Chief State School Officers are conducting further studies and making recommendations on how districts, states and national educational bodies can revisit standardized test design and implementation, improve their quality, reduce redundancy, and improve the turnaround time for results.
School Administrators Ready for Change
By enrolling in a master’s degree in educational administration program, students can weigh both sides of this debate and evaluate remedies for problems with standardized tests. Executed well and aligned with assessment intentions, standardized tests can improve student achievement across the country. However, they should not replace teacher instruction and the student learning experience.
Learn more about the CSUSM online MA in Educational Administration program.
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