Monday, February 25, 2013

"Zero-based" testing

In response to Superintendent Joshua Starr's call for a moratorium on standardized testing, Andrew Rotherdam suggests a "zero-based" testing approach:
 Kids do take a lot of tests, and the lion’s share are not federally required or go beyond the federal minimum.  They’re state and local assessments as well as teacher created ones, all for different purposes and often of varying quality.  They’re time consuming and they’re often not aligned, not especially useful for teachers, and in some cases persist just because of inertia.  Rather than a testing moratorium, which as Amundson discusses has some substantive problems, how about the testing equivalent of zero-based budgeting? Take a look at every test a kid sees over the course of the school year, and decide what can/should go.
 Rotherdam's tone is a bit obnoxious: "some of this is just local political positioning by Starr"...uh, no, Starr's been consistent in this being a priority for him. Some people do have actual standards, believe it or not, some which are not yours, Mr. Rotherdam. And his commenter points out a growing problem; we now have teachers who have never taught in a system that doesn't test every few weeks, and they need some training and support to adjust to actual full-time teaching. 
I do think that this is something we can overcome, but we need to recognize it as a problem first. I'm also not sure that a true "zero-based" consideration can be a starting point. Prying some of these tests away from their advocates would be very, very hard.

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