Teachers, students and adult public more supportive of school testing than you might think

Source: NWEA

Source: NWEA

You might guess that standardized tests are the bane of both teachers’ and students’ existences, but two different opinion polls  show a surprising level of support for bubbling in circles with number 2 pencils. In Teachers versus the Public, a book published on April 29, 2014, Harvard Professor Paul E. Peterson reports that 86 percent of the public and 77 percent of public school teachers support using tests for graduation. In other areas, from teacher pay to unions, there’s a giant gulf between teacher perceptions and public perceptions.

“Accountability is one of the issues where the public and teachers agree” said Peterson.

Similarly,  Northwest Evaluation Association, a non-profit maker of standardized tests, released a (self-serving) survey May 6, 2014 showing  94 percent of students agree that tests are very or somewhat important for understanding what they are learning. Among teachers, 50 percent say they could not be good teachers without any assessments in their teaching. (One can quibble with the wording of the question. I suspect that you would get a very different result if you asked teachers what they thought about the assessments that they are being forced to prep students for right now. )

But is seems that teachers are softening their resistance to testing. Two years earlier in 2011, 60 percent of teachers thought that students were wasting too much time preparing for and taking assessments. In 2013, only 53 percent of teachers thought too much student time was devoted to testing.

POSTED BY Jill Barshay ON May 6, 2014

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Ummmm…the source of the survey–NWEA–selling #CommonCore assessments. I guess we are to believe the survey is valid and was conducted in the right manner. If I questions the validity, I might be forced to listen to Michelle A. Rhee on loop for hours until 2 + 2 is 5. CC: Badass Teachers Association Diane Ravitch http://pointeviven.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-education-picture-follow-money-and.html

Jill Barshay

@x do you see anything in the NWEA survey, conducted by Grunwald Associates, to make you question the methodology? The wording of the questions does seem to steer the results in NWEA’s favor. But is there anything specific in the survey report (http://www.nwea.org/sites/www.nwea.org/files/resources/MakeAssessmentMatter_5-2014.pdf) that caught your attention?

Rebecca Leech

The question asks about how important testing is, not state mandated standardized testing. These are two completely different questions. Research clearly shows that frequent quizzing and periodic teacher-testing are critical for teachers to measure student progress. Formative assessment, which involves teachers making frequent determinations of student understanding of the content so that they can adjust the focus of instruction, is absolutely necessary. (The key concept here is that teachers are ones who make and use tests.) I don’t hear any debate on this subject, and the only thing I find surprising is that the majority of respondents in these surveys believe we spend too much time in this type of activity. What most people I speak with question are standardized tests that call for full days of instruction to be cancelled, require teaching to the test rather than teaching content, and which are often poorly constructed, lack validity, and do not align with the curriculum. Conduct another poll and specifically ask about “state mandated, standardized tests” and the findings will not surprise anyone.

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