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How Much Testing is Too Much? Lawmaker's Efforts to Reduce Testing Resurfaces Debate

How Much Testing is Too Much? Lawmaker's Efforts to Reduce Testing Resurfaces Debate

As those in the education sphere focus on debating whether or not Trump's pick for education secretary Betsy DeVos is the right choice for the job, one Texas lawmaker is resurfacing an age-old education debate that has gotten lost in the shuffle: what is the right amount of testing for students?

According to Time Warner Cable News, Republican Rep. Jason Isaac has introduced the Teaching Over Testing Act in order to reduce standardized tests in the state from 22 to 17 as well as reduce testing's influence on both teacher evaluation and school ratings.

Specifically, the legislation focuses on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), which Isaac says costs taxpayers an estimated $300 million for every four-year contract.

Isaac defines four concrete goals for reforming testing in Texas:

  • Instill competition among test providers
  • Reduce the number of exams
  • Remove STAAR from teacher evaluations
  • Reduce weight of STAAR in school ratings

The reduction of tests from 22 to 17 will be in-line with the new requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires 7 reading tests, 7 math tests and 3 science tests over a public school student's K-12 career.

"This is sufficient to determine whether students master basic subjects," Isaac says.

Also, and perhaps most notably, Isaac's act would decrease the influence of STAAR's impact on school ratings from 55 percent to 25 percent, increasing the impact of dropout weights, parental involvement, and health and wellness to compensate instead.

Toward the latter end of former president Barack Obama's time in office, one of his priorities was reducing the amount of standardized testing. The decision was made after concerns of educators who felt bogged down by "teaching to the test" reached a fever pitch.

"I still have no question that we need to check at least once a year to make sure our kids are on track or identify areas where they need support," said Arne Duncan, the former secretary of education for most of Obama's presidency in 2015, according to The New York Times.

"But I can't tell you how many conversations I'm in with educators who are understandably stressed and concerned about an overemphasis on testing in some places and how much time testing and test prep are taking from instruction," he said.

Two years later, the problem still persists as Isaac writes:

"I really think you are going to have less stressed out students, less stressed out parents, and less stressed out educators that are free to truly teach at the capacity that they know how to teach."

Read the full story.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

2/2/2017

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