As chairman of the board of Marco Island Academy in Collier County, Fla., I have had an opportunity to witness firsthand how standardized testing requirements affect students, teachers and administration at a public charter school.
As a parent of three children in the public school system, I have personal experience with how testing has affected my own kids. In both cases, I have seen an unnecessary amount of stress caused by an abundance of standardized testing.
At the state and federal level, legislators have expressed a greater desire to measure student learning through assessments. In an effort to ensure that all students succeed, the U.S. has inadvertently created test-taking factories in the public school system.
Schools must have high expectations and an effective way to measure student learning. But at what point do we determine that additional testing is not the solution to a much more complex problem? Are the standardized tests aligned with the standards that are taught in class? Do the test results give teachers useful data to guide instruction? Based on my experience, the answer to these questions too often is no.
Last year, students at MIA spent approximately half their instructional days during second semester taking tests of some kind. Between the Florida Standards Assessments, mandatory end of course exams, and the advanced-curriculum AICE and Cambrige International exams, students in every class were tested, sometimes multiple times in the same course. In the pre-Cambridge Biology class, for example, students took a state-mandated Biology end-of-course exam and the pre-AICE test.
Administrators had to coordinate logistics. They had to establish seating charts prior to each test and submit them to our local district. Our small community charter school cannot afford a full-time IT team. Instead, we spent thousands of dollars to have an IT representative visit the school and set up all the computers prior to each test. Our guidance counselor doubled as a full-time test administrator. Teachers were pulled from their classrooms to proctor exams. We had to hire substitute teachers to take their place. Continue Reading →