We often hear from teachers that certain tests are not helpful in classrooms. We have been in areas where teachers brought their concerns to school boards and were successful in changing required tests. To help you speak up about any unfair testing, we offer you the following list of what to consider as you plan to voice your concerns:
- What are the credentials of the test developers? One popular test was not designed by educators.
- Who benefits financially when the test is administered? You would be surprised at the institutions, etc. who collect money!
- How are the test results used? If they are not used to plan instruction, then the test is often worthless.
- How much class time is devoted to giving the test? Too much test time takes away from instruction. For example, if you use three weeks to individually assess children, think about the time this takes away from class time, especially if you do this at the beginning of the year when you need to establish routines and a positive atmosphere for children.
- Does the test actually test what it says it does? One popular test claims to assess children's knowledge of letters, but in reality, it tests how fast a child can speak. Think about how this hurts our ELLs.
- What does the research say about the test? You can look this up on the Internet. But, be aware - sometimes test developers conduct research and get it published in journals. Look for name or institutional matches.
- Does the test use only quantitative data? This means numbers - we are reminded of researchers who claimed teachers called on male students more than on female students. They believed this helped male students academically. The findings were later disputed when qualitative researchers visited classrooms and noted that when teachers called on male students they were doing this to correct behavior. This anecdote shows we need both those who do statistics and those who look at the reasons things occur.
- How do young children react to being tested? We believe that especially in preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary school, we need to look at how children react in testing situations. Consider a child who returned from "taking" one popular test. That child did not answer or speak to the test administrator because she was a stranger. The child was proud because she had followed the rules. Of course, the quantitative data showed the child failed the assessment.
Please let us know if you have questions or successes.