Testing, Testing, Testing

Posted by Adam Moore on 2/9/2016

Testing, Testing, Testing!!! There has been much talk about standardized testing in education circles for the last decade. With the introduction of No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, testing data has often been used in many productive and unproductive ways. Testing and testing results are often at the center of hotly debated regional and federal level discussions. In many schools, countless hours and days of instruction are used to “teach to the test” and to prepare students and teachers for the “test.” That does not include the weeks of lost instruction time that students experience during testing weeks. Imagine for just a moment, if those days and weeks of lost instruction time were used to teach students, think of the impact on the entire educational community, think of the impact on students.  

Testing is an important part of life, especially in schools, and can be used for many great purposes, but the question for me has always been, “How does it help the student?” Using test results to help identify curriculum issues or measure teacher effectiveness can be helpful, but the purpose of any test, whether standardized or an end of unit assessment or project, should be to help students, identify deficiencies, and then make a plan to address each student’s needs. Teachers should use data in order to differentiate instruction in the classroom. All tests should be used to guide instruction and skilled teachers have the ability to take test results and other data to craft lessons that address student needs.

 At my school standardized tests are given in the fall; and the results are used by teachers to identify student goals, design future lessons, and plan instruction that benefit the students in their class. Tests should be one of many pieces of information used to guide instruction, measure learning, and set individual student goals. The teacher’s job is to gather data from multiple sources, including standardized test results, classroom observation, performance on classroom assessments, and any other classwork, homework or product that a student completes and then use all of that information to move the individual student forward.

 

I look forward to the day when testing is not at the center of educational discussions and students, teachers, and schools see test data as one of many pieces of information that should be used to design lessons that meet the individual needs of every student in every classroom.