Report Spurs New Calls To Reduce School Testing

Oct 26, 2015

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says he doesn't want to eliminate school testing completely. But he wants changes in the amount of testing and how the results are used.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Eighth grade is the worst.

That’s when students spend the most time on standardized tests -- more than four full school days.

That's according to a new, nationwide school district survey of testing from the Council of Great City Schools, a nonprofit education research and advocacy group. The survey found that most students spend between 20 and 25 hours a year on standardized tests.

The Council of Great City Schools surveyed 66 school districts and found the average student took more than 100 standardized tests before graduating from high school. The group said the survey shows school testing requirements aren’t very organized and don’t make a lot of sense.

"It generally lacks any strategy or theory of action behind how it is defined," said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools.

The report is one reason why President Barack Obama is asking school districts to reduce testing.

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho agrees there are too many tests, but he said schools should not eliminate them entirely. Carvalho attended a Washington, D.C. event in which the findings were announced and solutions discussed.

“This conversation and this report," Carvalho said, "are not meant to empower an abdication of this moral responsibility we have to our kids and to our parents and to our teachers regarding the importance of testing.”

Carvalho said test scores force low-performing schools to improve. And schools can’t ignore low-scoring students just because average scores are good.

“I think nobody here is advocating for the elimination of testing," Carvalho said. "We can not go back to the years when the curtain of high-performing students hid pockets of underperforming kids.”

But while the Miami-Dade superintendent supports annual testing, he has opposed  plans to grade schools this year based on results from Florida’s new standardized test.

President  Obama recently posted on Facebook that there is too much testing. He’s asking schools to cut back.

Testing opponents say that’s not enough -- they want to repeal federal requirements to test students every year.