What parents want from tests

Education advocates who fight high stakes testing are often accused of being anti-test or anti-accountability. That is not the case. We understand that authentic assessments have value in our classrooms. Rather, we are against the way tests are currently being misused in our state.

Rather than using tests to measure and evaluate students, teachers and schools in the way they are currently being used, we are asking for the following:

  • Assessments should be locally created, with questions written by educators experienced in the subject matter and grade level being tested, preferably the classroom teacher.
  • Assessments should be formative, and used for the purpose of informing teachers about student progress and improving learning.
  • Assessments should NOT be used to measure or evaluate the performance of education personnel in any way.
  • Assessments should NOT be used to measure, evaluate or grade schools or districts in any way.
  • Any one assessment should NOT be the sole determinant in promotion, progression, student grades or placement decisions in any circumstance. The best people to make promotion decisions are the classroom teachers and parents familiar with the students’ abilities.
  • Student progress monitoring should only be used when necessary to guide an individual’s learning, and should be done through classroom-based observations and work-based portfolios created by teachers and other educators.
  • Questions on assessments should not be considered private or protected. Students and teachers should be able to speak freely and openly about test questions, and given the opportunity to critique and improve questions as needed.
  • Assessments (and the amount of time spent on assessments) should be cognitively, developmentally and age-appropriate, as determined by teachers and other child development experts.
  • Preparation for assessments should not take up classroom time, nor essential non-academic time periods such as recess or lunch.
  • Assessments should be made available to teachers far in advance of administration so that they can prepare students for success.
  • Alternative methods of accountability that focus on improving educational quality rather than improving test scores should be used. Examples include: adherence to class size requirements, regular access to extra-curricular activities including the arts, quality of individualized services including those for gifted and special education students, percentage of certified teachers and quality of certification programs, and other proven techniques.