Reduction in testing time a worthwhile goal

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — President Barack Obama’s administration is trying to tackle one of the most commonly heard complaints about education in America: Students and teachers spend too much time on standardized testing.

Based on a study released over the weekend and cited by the president, the initiative to reduce hours devoted to testing makes sense and no doubt will be welcomed by students, teachers and parents alike. But in efforts to streamline standardized testing in the nation’s schools, none of the stakeholders should forget the important place held by assessing students’ learning and skills and, by extension, schools’ effectiveness.

The study mentioned by Obama was performed by the Council of the Great City Schools, an organization based in Washington, D.C., and focused on issues facing urban schools. The group studied 66 big-city school districts, and found that testing amounts to about 2.3 percent of classroom time for the average eighth-grader, according to a report by The Associated Press. Students on average took about 112 mandatory standardized exams from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Looking at it another way, the typical student spends 20-25 hours a year taking standardized tests.

One obvious aspect to tackle is redundancy…

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