LETTER TO THE EDITOR: MORE TEACHING, LESS TESTING PLEASE!
It astonishes me how much standardized testing our children are being subjected to in schools today. We have the NECAPS, NWEA, NAEP, ACT, ACT ASPIRE, and now the Smarter Balanced Assessment Tests (SBAT). Do these tests accurately measure our children’s academic knowledge and help to improve education or are they mostly used for accountability for Federal and State funding, teacher evaluation and data mining?
Even before the first SBAT has been administered in NH, the State Dept. of Ed (DOE) is working on yet another assessment mechanism called PACE (Performance Assessment of Competency Education). The details about this program can be found on the Ed NH.Gov website. These tests are supposed to be locally created but if you read closely, they are linked to the achievement level descriptors of the SBAT and need State DOE validation. If PACE is locally controlled, why does it need to be included in NH’s No Child Left Behind waiver application that is to be submitted to the Federal Government by March 31st 2015 and why hasn’t the public had a chance to weigh in? Why are the tests given by our teachers throughout the year based on their lesson plans not enough to evaluate our children’s success?
Maggie Hassan issued a press release dated March 5, 2015 regarding the “Federal Approval of NH’s pilot of PACE. In it, Scott Marion, Director of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessments and Rye School Board member, who has been working on PACE with the NH DOE, said “the PACE competency-based education system provides closer monitoring of each individual student than standardized-tests do and provides the results quickly enough to actually help to improve teaching”. This would seem to mean that the Smarter Balanced tests, on which we have spent millions of tax dollars along with countless classroom prep hours, do not improve education!
PACE also attempts to measure student’s attitudes, behaviors, and dispositions through what the State calls “Work Study Practices” using “performance tasks”. The NH DOE also promised to test for dispositions in the renewal of the Federal No Child Left Behind Waiver. By NH State law, statewide assessments are supposed to measure academic knowledge not a child’s psychological makeup.
Parents around the state and country are opting out of SBAT, and that is a problem for the Educational Industrial Complex. Is the NH DOE now creating a high-stakes system for children? If parents find the assessments inappropriate or the material included objectionable, will they find it difficult to refuse PACE because student’s grades and promotions are now tied to these Common Core aligned assessments? Parents have the Constitutional right to direct the education of their children.
Ask the NH DOE about PACE. Find out what promises they are are making to the Federal Government in the renewal of the No Child Left Behind Waiver and how it will affect NH students and teachers. We must insist that parents and citizens be informed and included in the conversation before these initiatives are adopted!
Shouldn’t we be investing more of our time and tax dollars on teaching and less on testing?