Evaluating the Efficiency of Standardized Testing

November 15, 2015

To many students, the stress that comes with standardized exams rivals homework. As soon as one returns to class after a four-hour long exam, they have no choice but to play catch up in order to account for lost instruction and work. Because standardized exams regularly absorb hours upon hours of class time, the federal government outlined specific measures to cut down standardized testing to only 2% of class time, among other measures.

“I think it’s a good idea, because standardized testing takes up class time from what we actually need to learn,” senior Sofia Crespo said. “What we learn in class is the important stuff, not standardized testing.”

        According to a report by the U.S. Department of Education, the federal government recommends that statewide assessments take up no more than 2% of a student’s school year, since over-testing proved to reduce creativity in the classroom and separate students from a vital learning environment.  

        “It’s good because nobody likes to test, but it depends on which testing you are going to cut back,” junior Giovanna Nascimento said. “A lot of teachers did benefit because of having higher scores.”

This action plan intends to push state educational departments to accept federal standards for standardized testing, which prioritizes the educational needs of students. The report outlined that educational decisions should not be made based on the result on a single assessment; meaning, multiple methods should be utilized in order to properly assess students, educators and schools . These new measures require that tests should assess multiple factors, in order to make them as efficient as possible.

“If there’s reform coming, I’d love to see it. I don’t see how [the federal government is] going to accomplish this though,” Testing Department Chair Janice Fair said. “This is both state and district testing. Some of this stuff is mandated by the state.”

The federal government plans to follow through by providing expertise to states seeking to shorten exams, finding innovative ways to improve exams and funding millions of dollars in efforts to eliminate unnecessary testing.

“I think less standardized testing will benefit me more as a student,” junior Tiffany Watson said. “ If it’s coming from the federal government, it most likely will happen.”

Nonetheless, some students wait to see if this new plan undermines their specific needs. Sophomore William Concepcion expressed concern about students who normally receive extra time on the exam through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) waiver.

“I think it’s really not going to benefit us, because there’s certain people who need extra time,” Concepcion said.

Until Washington’s ideas take form, Palmetto students remain unaffected by these decisions.

“To be perfectly honest, that is still at just the talking stages,” District Director of Student Assessment Dr. Sally Shay said. “Miami-Dade County Public Schools is well under the level of testing permissible under Florida statutes. Our state already has statutes limiting testing to 5% of instructional time and we are in compliance.”

If executed properly, these decisions could redeem the time lost to unnecessary, ineffective exams.

“Although they are working on eliminating some of the testing and leaving it to less than 2%, we have not seen any changes come down to the school level yet,” principal Victoria Dobbs said. “If they can do this, it’s going to allow us to have more productive classroom time.”

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