Only 28% of teachers believe standardized tests have significant value as measures of student performance, according to a new report published jointly by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Primary Sources: 2012: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession,” was released March 16 at WNET’s Celebration of Teaching and Learning in New York. Based on a survey of more than 10,000 public school teachers, the survey finds that only 28 percent of educators see state-required standardized tests as an essential or very important gauge of student achievement. In addition, only 26 percent of teachers say standardized tests are an accurate reflection of what students know.
What’s Wrong With Standardized Tests?
* One potential explanation for those low marks lies in another of the survey’s findings—that is, only 45 percent of teachers think their students take standardized tests seriously or perform to the best of their ability on them.
* All states have standards, which should guide classroom instruction, both in the curriculum and in the way the material is presented and tested. However, state standards and state standardized tests are not always correlated, and often not well-matched to contemporary teaching and learning goals.
* It makes no sense to evaluate students only on standardized tests, administered over one or two days in the school year. Instead, all students should be evaluated using multiple measures, so that their performance throughout the year is monitored. Many students freak out at the sight of a “high-stakes” test.
* Grading teachers based on their students’ standardized test scores, a practice that is appearing in districts across the country, is unfair. The tests are often not well designed, but in addition, no teacher can choose which students he has in his class. I’ve had students who are very strong one year, and very weak the next year. Don’t grade me on my students’ differences.
How To Solve The Problem Of Standardized Tests
Overall, according to the report, teachers see ongoing formative assessments, class participation, and performance on class assignments as much more important measures of student learning. At the same time, most teachers (85 percent) agree that their students’ growth over the course of the year should contribute significantly to evaluations of their own performance.
From Education Week:
At a conference panel discussion on the Scholastic-Gates report, Margery Mayer, president of Scholastic Education, said the findings speak to the need to use multiple measures to evaluate teachers’ impact on student learning. On questioning from session moderator Chelsea Clinton, in addition, Gates Foundation president Allan Golston reiterated his organization’s opposition to the public release of the value-added ratings, saying it was “counterproductive” in terms of conducting meaningful evaluations of teachers.
The Gates Foundation’s position, especially in connection with the findings in the new report, is significant because the organization has widely been perceived as being an influential proponent of increasing the use of standardized test scores in teacher evaluations.
Teacher-effectiveness authority Charlotte Danielson added that “not a single one of the 21st-century skills can be assessed on a multiple-choice test.” She said that the appeal of standardized test scores is that they “give you a number” but that teaching is too complex to be captured in that way.
Teachers Fleeing Public Schools For The Private Sector
So there we have it. One result of the huge importance that standardized tests now hold in public education is that many teachers, including myself, have forsaken public schools for private schools, where we are not bound by these restrictions.
And let’s all take a look at the education system in Finland, which ranks consistently at the top of international surveys of education. In that country, students only take standardized tests once during their high school careers, in the very last year.
What’s your opinion on standardized tests?
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