The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Mandated tests

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  • The question arises, "How many mandated tests should pupils take in a given school year?" When teaching in a two teacher public school in 1955-1957, there were no required state or national tests for pupils to take to show achievement. Progress of pupils was entirely determined by teacher judgement. Report cards were filled out by the classroom teacher which were issued to parents, monthly, to show pupil progress. This has certainly changed in time!
    For example in Seattle, Wash. this past January, many teachers refused to administer to pupils another standardized test titled the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP). The following reasons were given by teachers:
    * concern over the test not being aligned with what was taught in the school curriculum
    * the tests were low in reliability making for large errors of measurement in a pupil's score
    * excessive time taken away from classroom teaching
    * minority children, especially English Language Learners (ELL) and those in special education and how they would fare on test results
    * reading and mathematics teacher's results of their pupils scores
    being a part of their ratings in teaching effectiveness.
    The refusal to give the MAP tests was not based on teacher salaries, nor working conditions. The last asterisked item did not exactly state that it would be. If it were the case, only reading and mathematics teachers would be involved.
    When teaching on the university level as Professor of Education, a standardized form listing thirty items, in which students would mark how well the instructor did in each in every class taught. Instructors did fear how students would rate their classes; I heard one instructor say to a colleague when getting his campus mail, "I am going to find out how badly I'll be crucified." There has to be a selected approach to appraise the quality of teaching if it hurts or not. In other words, university professors need to be appraised of effectiveness and receive needed feedback on teaching quality.
    Coming back to the public schools and testing pupils to ascertain how well they are doing, there are certain questions which need to be raised:
    * how many state/national tests should be administered in one school year?
    * how might validity and reliability be adequate when choosing a test? This data is generally located in the Manual of the test.
    — Marlow Ediger, North Newton
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