Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Becky Higgins today urged members of the Ohio Senate Education Committee to reduce the amount of time being spent preparing for and taking tests, and to extend to 3 years a moratorium on high-stakes decisions based on student test scores. A complete copy of her testimony is attached.
Higgins said current testing measures are flawed. “Teachers are beyond frustrated with the increasing amount of time spent on testing and the way it has crowded out time needed to teach and engage students in dynamic ways. They tell me about the anxiety felt by their students and the growing number of parents who are considering having their children ‘opt out’ of tests. There is a fundamental imbalance that needs to be corrected.”
In her testimony, Higgins proposed four steps that policymakers could take to bring about much-needed change:
“First, reduce the amount of time spent on testing,” said Higgins. “There is too much time devoted to testing. It’s crowding out time for teaching and learning, limiting student engagement and narrowing our curriculum. The disproportionate time spent on testing is being felt by students, parents and educators. It’s time to focus more clearly on our students and their needs.”
“Second, address problems with the tests. The transition to the new tests, including PARCC, is producing mixed results at best,” said Higgins. “A myriad of issues have been raised including technology, lack of timely guidance, tests not properly aligned to standards, age appropriateness of tests, insufficient accommodations for special education students and a lack of timely results from the assessment. These problems must be fixed.”
“Third, use the data appropriately to focus on helping students. Timely data from testing should be used to inform instruction, advance student learning and promote the growth of educators in their practice. It is not appropriate to tie high-stakes decisions to testing results,” testified Higgins.
“And finally, allow time to get implementation right. As Ohio makes the transition to new standards and assessments, there needs to be sufficient time to make adjustments. OEA renews its call for policy makers to hit the pause button and extend to 3 years a moratorium on the use of student test scores in measuring student growth, evaluating teacher performance and any adverse consequence on local schools,” said Higgins.
“OEA believes it is important to limit both the time spent on testing and the use of test results to make high-stakes decisions. The current fixation with testing is sucking the oxygen out of our education system. Students, parents and educators are saying enough is enough,” said Higgins.
The Ohio Education Association represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio's public schools, colleges and universities.