The No Child Left Behind Question: Is There Too Much Testing or Not Enough?

Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, says there should be yearly testing for students in grades 3-8. But, the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest teachers’ union, says testing should not be yearly but done every few years, or, as they call it, in grade spands.

For Yearly Testing:

  • Allow parents to be consistently updated on child’s progress
  • Allows both, state and local governments and educators to work on and analyze where education is working and where it is not working

Kati Haycock, president of the the Education Trust said, “…Kids who are not tested end up not counting.”

For Span Testing:

  • Puts less pressure on kids and teachers, in terms of performance
  • Allows for a more flexible and creative learning environment and curricula

Lily Eskelsen García, President of the National Education Association said, “Parents and educators know that the one size fits all annual federal testing structure has not worked.”

While this is a very brief summary of the debate, I have done further reading and still find myself sort of stuck in between the two viewpoints.

One of the main concerns for people in favor of span testing is the emphasis that is taken away from teacher performance based on standardized tests and the treatment that sll students take tests equally. I think these two ideas are very poignant and it seems that span testing could be the solution that addresses these pressures that both students and teachers face.

However, without an annual indicator, like standardized tests, it would seem difficult to find something that  allows parents, teachers and students to follow  students  progress effectively and take measures to ensure that students are getting the help they need on a time schedule that allows them to be college or career ready.

Perhaps, the best solution would be to find a substitute (or two or three) that would provide parents, students ad teachers with some kind of real measurement of progress. It is a little unclear on what those yearly indicators would be, but thinking about them is definitely a start to a more comfortable but effective learning environment.