Superintendent: Don’t test for 3 years

Schools need time to implement Common Core standards, so declare a three-year moratorium on federally required testing, proposes Joshua P. Starr, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, in a Washington Post op-ed.

If we are serious about realizing the promise of the Common Core, we must allow our school districts to focus on the important work of curriculum and assessment development, implementation and professional development.

Most U.S. public school systems are attempting to implement at least three things at once right now: revamped accountability measures, reforms as part of the federal Race to the Top program and the Common Core State Standards. This is simply too much at one time.

“School districts are not investing in new curricula, assessments, professional development or data systems” because they’re so distracted by testing, Starr argues.

I think his real concern is to derail value-added teacher evaluation plans.

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  1. Regardless of his possible intent to “derail value-added teacher evaluation plan,” there’s truth to the notion that when you try something new there will be a dip in performance before there’s a gain. If the dip makes us pull back from Common Core, then we will have lost the opportunity to see what the gains might have been. While I think having common standards is a good idea, I’m frustrated with how mixed up that idea has gotten with large-scale standardized testing.

    We’re about to do a third round of testing on our kids that will predict how they do on the state standards exams. That means we’re paying the company that provides the state exams for three extra rounds of testing to make sure they’re ready for the real test. Something seems amiss to me there. There’s a level of fear that gets in the way of us doing what’s best for kids because we’re just trying to keep our school’s good rating. Unfortunately, they aren’t always one and the same.

    Unlike many of my colleagues, I’m not opposed to some level of standardized testing. I’m not opposed to having my evaluation include my students’ performance, either. But testing’s gotten out of hand in some states and it’s time for everyone to demand to know what we’re getting for all that money being spent on tests.