Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D., is a Senior Policy Fellow for ExcelinEd focusing on school accountability policies.
We are each faced with times in our lives when have to prove ourselves—to earn a driver’s license, to get into college, to join the military or to land a dream job. These defining moments measure our readiness, knowledge and skills; and each test helps us understand if we’re equipped for the next challenge or responsibility.
In education, tests also play an important role in ensuring students are learning. By measuring students’ academic progress, we are able to identify which students will benefit from additional time and resources. Information from tests help guarantee all kids—regardless of income, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, first language or zip code—are learning.
That’s the skinny on why tests are so important for all kids.
But honestly, there can be too many tests. While tests are a regular part of life, they should not be the focus of a student’s classroom experience.
ExcelinEd advocates for fewer, better tests, and we will continue to support statewide testing as an annual check on student achievement and learning.
Tests must serve a purpose and not simply take up valuable classroom time. We encourage states, districts and school leaders to conduct testing audits to determine if every test administered provides valuable information to educators and parents to improve student learning. Because if a test isn’t being used for that purpose, students and teachers are losing precious time.
To provide the best possible education to our kids, we must continue measuring student learning. Information from tests provides a way to focus resources and efforts to best meet the needs of students. And, it is the only way to give parents honest information about the effectiveness of the schools and teachers.