A current issue in public school education pertains to the number of standardized tests to be given in a school year.

To be sure, too much testing takes away valuable instruction time. Giving no standardized test also has its weakness in not providing information on a pupil's progress. In New York state, 20 percent of parents wanted out of having their children take these tests. There have even been walkouts of pupils when tests are to be given. This makes it impossible to obtain a random sampling of information pertaining to pupil progress.

If no standardized tests are administered in a school year, no comparisons can be made in comparing pupil achievement of the local school with that of other school districts in Kansas or in the United States with state by state comparisons. What is important in standardized testing are the following:

* is my son or daughter gaining in achievement when comparing the latest results with those given previously?

* which curriculum/academic area or skill has the lowest score and, in particular needs more effort to achieve by the pupil?

* what might be done to assist the pupil to achieve more optimally in a rich learning environment?

My thinking is that one valid/reliable standardized achievement test be given in a school year and this should be adequate to receive information on how well my son/daughter is doing in school. The test should be given somewhat toward the beginning of the school year so that the results may be utilized for diagnosis/remediation purposes in teaching and learning situations.

The results might be different if another reputable standardized test is utilized to measure pupil progress. Tests measure different knowledge/skills when making comparisons between these measuring instruments. Test items pertaining to knowledge and skills in mathematics, as an exception, might tend to agree considerably when standardized tests are compared. When comparing No Child Left Behind test results with Common Core State Standards, the latter has more complex test items. Both emphasize a standardized test be given once in each grade level, in grades three through eight. In the state of Florida, a parent wanted an opt-out of testing for her third grade child.

A judge, there, ruled that it is definitely required since the state has a compelling interest in having all pupils tested to notice progress in achievement.

— Marlow Ediger, North Newton