Opinion, Uncategorized

Another attempt to improve testing

The Journal editorial

For many years, students in West Virginia public schools had to take standardized tests that left much to be desired. But once state officials adopted them, it proved difficult to change.

State legislators moving to eliminate the newest exam, the Smarter Balanced test, are right to insist the Department of Education pull the plug on it. The test, used for just one year, simply is not appropriate. But let us not make the same mistake with the replacement.

A bill moving through the state Senate now, SB18, would mandate that for the next school year, Mountain State students must be given the ACT or ACT Aspire standardized tests, depending on grade level.

It seems like an improvement. For one thing, the ACT exams are given nationwide. They will allow us to compare West Virginia students’ skills to those of counterparts elsewhere.

An amendment to SB18 would require the ACT tests to be used for four years, however. Locking it in for that long may be a mistake, given our history with adopting standardized tests that looked good, only to find they were flawed.

As far as changes to testing — and other aspects of public education — lawmakers should adopt the philosophy sometimes used with students: We’ll keep doing it until we get it right.

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