My post yesterday about Common Core State Standards led to a discussion of testing and whether or not it is appropriate for students. Even though I only had eleven students my first year and twelve this past year, I believe testing is an incredibly important part of our job as educators. If we don’t test our students, then we only have a feeling of where they are and where they need to go. That’s not enough. I want evidence to share with my colleagues, my Executive Director, my students, and their parents to say “this is what we did really well,” and “this is what we need to work on for the next quarter.”
Are tests perfect? Absolutely not. Administrators and educators need to hold test companies accountable when it comes to whether or not tests meet standards and educators need to be critical of ethnic and racial bias that may come with any given test. I also know that when a kindergarten student takes a test, s/he may simply click around seriously consider the questions in front of him/her. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t test.
Now, where educators should be concerned is how a school uses its test data. This information should be used to inform practice. Effective principals should look at test data and say “this is how this classroom is doing,” “this is how our school is doing,” and “this is what I can do to steer us in the right direction.”
Too much of the discussion about testing is wrapped up in a discussion about teacher evaluations. That conversation is toxic. While I agree with the idea of teacher evaluations, I think that needs to be set aside so that we can do what’s right for kids and focus on their data and effectively using that data to help principals, teachers, and ultimately students make the most progress.