When you hear people talk about the explosion of standardized testing in public education in the No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top era, it may be hard to understand just what that means to a student sitting in a classroom. This may help explain: Fourth graders in the Pittsburgh Public Schools will take 33 standardized tests mandated by the district or state this year — 10 fewer than last year. In fact, K-12 students take more than 270 required exams.
This is all explained in this Post-Gazette story, which says:
In fourth grade, the state requires the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests in math, reading and science (three tests), and the GRADE test, a standardized reading test published by Pearson required for recipients of Keystone to Opportunity reading grants (three tests).
Beyond that, fourth-graders also take DIBELS Next, a brief oral standardized test of reading fluency (three tests); reading module tests that are hybrids created by the reading publisher Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and district staff (15 tests); reading unit tests, also hybrids, (five tests); and math benchmark tests created by district staff (four tests).
Some tests help to diagnose students’ needs or see if they’ve learned what’s been taught. The reading modules and unit tests also account for most of the reading grade.
And this year, the stakes of some of these exams will be raised; teachers will be evaluated based in part on the test scores of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests.
Education officials in the district say they are trying to reduce the number of tests students have to take. Fine, but how did they are their bosses let this situation develop in the first place? It’s nothing short of nutty — and it isn’t a problem unique to Pittsburgh; kids around the country are being tested ad nauseam. A revolt against this nonsense is growing around the country with parents, teachers, students, principals, superintendents, school boards and even business leaders raising their voices against it. The question is whether anybody with power to stop it is listening.