Children are being harmed: Children are having additional frustration in school since the new tests were designed to make a larger portion of the students not proficient based on arbitrary standards that do not relate to real life success. We are now testing students at earlier ages and giving them tests on material they have not been taught yet in order to measure their growth. Though teacher created formative assessments can be helpful, the overuse of standardized assessments where the questions and answers are never revealed is not only a questionable practice, but can be considered abusive to our children. Mental health professionals and multitudes of parents have reported added anxiety and unwillingness to participate in taking tests or attending school by large numbers of students. Our biggest concern is children are disliking school and learning. Of great concern is the ending of testing accommodations for students with special needs and English Language learners. Standardized tests are highly correlated to socio-economic status and the new tests seem to demonstrate similar trends. In a MetLife North Carolina Survey, teachers reported that one half of their instructional time is spent in preparing students for tests.
Teachers and Schools are being harmed: Though standardized tests have been around a long time, their design and use was for improving instruction. Now we are using these single measures designed for comparing children to each other, for reasons they were never intended. These new results are measuring teacher effectiveness and school effectiveness. If they were a valid measure of effectiveness then we would support them. Unfortunately, even with some statistical maneuvers using “value-added” these measure do not control for all of the variables that impact a student’s learning and growth (such as other students, student motivation, student abilities, home support, etc.). We want our teachers evaluated and encouraged to improve their practice. But using a single test, not designed for teacher measurement, to judge whether teachers keep their jobs lead to competition, and teachers being punished for working with students who have additional needs. Some of the best teachers are leaving the profession or moving to states where their evaluation is based on valid measures. Many teachers are also suffering from the same anxieties and mental health issues impacting our children.