State Superintendent calls for fewer standardized tests

State Superintendent Mark Johnson has announced plans to reduce standardized testing in public schools.

"New, personalized learning technology allows teachers to get the information they need about students' progress without high-stakes testing," Johnson said in a press release sent to ABC11. "We will be working with local superintendents and state leaders to reform the system of over-testing. That way, we can give the teachers the time to do what they entered the profession to do- teach."

Proponents of more standardized testing believe it enforces accountability for students and teachers while creating standards to track performance; however, detractors believe it encourages teachers to create lesson plans geared towards exams while discouraging students from pursuing subjects they won't be tested on.

"If Mandarin Chinese is not going to be on the standardized test at the end of the year, do those kinds of classes that are really important for a great world-class education, are they dropped in favor of check-in-the-boxes?" asked Keith Poston, the parent of a public school graduate and the President and Executive Director of the Raleigh-based non-profit Public School Forum of North Carolina.

According to a press release provided by the Board of Education, a survey of more than 42,000 parents found that 78 percent believed their children take too many tests, while 76 percent of teachers share the same sentiment.

"It has really stressed students and sucked the creativity out of our teachers who know how to teach, and know how to engage our students," said Poston.

The state plans on the following:

  • Reducing the number of questions on tests
  • Reducing the time students must sit for tests
  • Changing testing policies to reduce the stress at schools around testing time
  • Working with local leaders to reduce the number of locally required tests
  • Pushing to eliminate tests not required by Washington, D.C.
  • Giving students other ways to show progress if they have a bad test day
  • Using the appropriate amount of technology as a tool for students and teachers to personalize learning and eliminate tests

"We put a lot of pressure on students, and we put a lot of work on our teachers., and I think there's got to be some balance there," Poston said.

The Board of Education noted they have already taken steps to achieve this initiative, including eliminating field reports at the Analysis of Student Work portfolios. They plan on implementing the newest steps this year.

"I think standardized high-stakes testing has also can discourage a student from getting interested in trying new things because they're afraid of failure, what that might mean," Poston explained.
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