Spring is here which means that the annual standardized testing season is upon us. Many students have not been a physical classroom in more than a year, and yet the powers that be at all level are “debating” whether they should bring kids in to test them. While standardized tests can certainly reveal a lot about the effectiveness of distance learning, perhaps the needs of students should surpass that of the research.
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind as the new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, annual standardized testing in the United States but with new measures to make it less punitive. Schools are no longer required to make “annual yearly progress” and teacher evaluations are not directly tied to student test outcomes, at least from the federal level. As of 2019 thirty-four states require student growth outcomes as part of teacher evaluations. In eight of those states, student growth is not required to be measured by standardized tests. So, for a good percentage of schools, the assumption is that the tests are necessary to keep business as normal. But of course, it hasn’t been business as normal for a year.
While many schools are likely to be open by May, do we want to waste the remaining precious time in the school year on having them sit through standardized testing? It has been a brutal year plus on these children in terms of education. Districts are already developing plans for students to come to in-person summer school. So, if districts are assuming there needs to be more in-person learning, why not let students re-connect with each other and the fun of learning in the weeks they have left in class. The fact that standardized testing is even up for debate tells me that the powers that be: don’t really think about what students need and that the testing lobby is as powerful as ever. But then again, it isn’t as if I didn’t already know this.