What Would A “Good” Test Look Like?
The decision by a group of Seattle teachers to boycott a standardized test this winter could spill out to other cities as a decade of frustration over testing simmers, writes Greg Toppo in USA Today:
“Teachers at Garfield High School, Seattle’s largest, last December said they’d pass on giving the latest Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP test, a diagnostic tool that also screens students for remedial or gifted classes. Given several times a year, it’s also used indirectly to rate teachers, but Garfield teachers say it’s not aligned to the state curriculum and produces ‘meaningless’ results. They have until Feb. 22 to administer the test or face unpaid suspension.
Since then, teachers at two more Seattle schools have said they’ll sit out the test, with the approval of leading academics and both major U.S. teachers unions.
Elsewhere, the Chicago Teachers Union this week launched a campaign ‘in support of local and nationwide efforts to eliminate standardized non-state mandated tests’ from public schools.
In Providence, R.I., a group of high school students on Wednesday led a protest urging lawmakers to get rid of the high-stakes New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) as part of new graduation requirements. And in Portland, Ore., a student group is encouraging classmates to opt out of the standardized Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS). The group hopes to persuade at least 5% of students to stay home, triggering an automatic ‘In Need of Improvement’ designation at each school.” (Read more here.)
My view on this: Tests are necessary. We need to have an objective way to measure students’ progress. But when the tests are perceived by teachers and students as “meaningless,” as unconnected to what they’re teaching and learning, we have a problem.
How can we design “good” tests, tests that feel fair and relevant? Any ideas?