Magazine article The Christian Century

Testing, Testing

Magazine article The Christian Century

Testing, Testing

Article excerpt

This has been the spring of discontent over standardized testing. Parents, activists, and educators have been working to dismantle the system of high-stakes testing under which federal funding and teacher evaluations are tied to student test results. Concerned by the number of hours devoted to testing, and by a system that encourages "teaching to the test," thousands of parents have had their children opt out of taking some tests.

In Colorado, in the final minutes of the legislative session, legislators shaved 35 hours of testing from the school calendar. In seven other states, the use of legislated exams were either repealed or delayed. Sixty-eight percent of parents now say that high-stakes testing is not helping their children's education.

Unfortunately, the legitimate resistance to an emphasis on standardized testing has been closely tied to resistance to the national educational standards called the Common Core. The Common Core has its roots in a 2008 commission of governors, educators, and business leaders who were worried that students in the United States were not receiving a world-class education. The commission, led by Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, realized that the United States was unlikely to develop a world-class system without some general agreement about standards.

The Common Core is a set of standards for learning in math and English. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core. Each content area has research-based standards that define what it means for a child to be at or above grade level. …

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