It is for this reason that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and their affiliates continue to push for Common Core State Standards (CCSS), though their efforts lack the support of policymakers, who are fixated on the use of standardized tests for the purpose of accountability.
Following the enactment of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001, more attention was given to fulfilling the needs of students by employing CCSS and assessments to evaluate student and school performance. However, this system left educators as the only party responsible for the performance of students and schools, while policymakers set out to increase the number of standardized tests administered to students as a way to benchmark their performance levels and set prerequisites for graduation or promotion.
Educators acknowledge the importance of measuring student learning through the appropriate use of standardized testing and logical accountability measures, though they continue to assert that there should be proper balance between teaching and testing. As such, reforming the American education system requires a lot of work to be done, beyond the administration of regular assessments, through professional development, aligned curriculum, and access to resources for educators to advance their knowledge and collaboration efforts.
One of the requirements of the NCLB is the administration of standardized testing in all 50 states on an annual basis for all students above the third grade. These tests are motivated by the notion that students will feel increased pressure to perform well, owing to the eventual reward or punishment, which will then increase their learning and achievement.
The use of tests is vital for monitoring student learning, but the current accountability system under the NCLB Act has brought about serious implications including: reduced attention to critical elements of the curriculum that are not mandated to accountability testing, compromise of student learning time to test preparation and testing, and the shift of educators attention to attaining a minimum score as opposed to gaining knowledge.
Popham (11) claims that the use of a test-based accountability system is rational since it provides educators with a means to assess the comprehension level of their students, though the absolute reliance on this strategy obstructs proper teaching and learning.
Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Lunenburg (2) argues that high-stakes testing does not increase student learning. Instead, it interferes with student motivation and narrows the curriculum as teachers provide instruction based on the appropriate response to test questions.
This is done at the expense of vital skills traditionally provided in schools, including problem-solving, critical thinking and group work. In the last decade, the time spent on test preparation and testing has increased drastically, in similar proportion to the lost instructional time and additional testing expenses.
Proponents of more testing argue that the improved rate of student achievement, owing to additional tests, outweigh the extra costs of testing or money paid to testing companies, and fail to realize that the increase in number of ‘bubble students’, or those whose scores are concentrated at the minimum score, compromises the development of every student’s full potential (Nelson 8).
There are different kinds of assessments administered in schools, including those mandated by the state and those developed at the district level, though the recent focus on data reporting and analysis has made all assessments high-stakes assessments with implications for students, schools and teachers.
State tests mandated by NCLB are aimed at determining whether the students are satisfying state standards on an annual basis, and are administered in the spring to sum up the school year. The test scores are then compared to those of previous years in order to determine the effectiveness of a school. However, Lunenburg (3) argues that the use of a single summative test score to assess student achievement is flawed as it does not reflect on the progress of the students.
A study performed by Nelson on two mid-sized urban school districts revealed that students in grades 3 to 10 spend between 20 and 50 hours every year taking high-stake tests, and an additional 60-110 hours preparing for those tests. In addition, an estimated cost of $6.15 for every lost instructional hour translated to an annual testing cost of about $700 per student.
However, this study did not take into consideration a variety of other time and testing costs including: cost of test prep materials, the teacher’s non-classroom time spent preparing the test, time and cost of special education testing, cost of preparing hardware and technology for testing, and time spent on data reporting and analysis.
We will write a custom Essay on American Education Reform specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Other costs not incorporated in the study are those pertaining to time spent by students on quizzes or teacher-made tests, and the time spent on assessing homework and grading tests (Nelson). Nonetheless, Nelson (27) observed that the scrutiny of current testing policy, in regard to budgetary costs, would spark policymakers to consider alternative uses of teacher and student time, like allocating more time to non-test subjects in the curriculum.
According to the study performed by Nelson, the abolishment of testing would free up between 20 and 40 minutes in every school day for most grades, and in some cases, add an entire class period for students in grades 6-11. Furthermore, it would be possible to relocate about $100 of the amount used on every student for testing to buy instructional programs or provide technology.
According to Nelson (28), reducing the time and costs of testing by even half of the current levels would still produce considerable benefits to the learning school day, and create funds for the preparation of tests that are better suited to enhance knowledge acquisition, and even increase the access of teachers, students and parents to valuable resources and information.
In the recent past, different states have started to acknowledge the pleas of educators to focus less on excess-testing and more on imparting meaningful knowledge. The Texas legislature, for instance, decided to slice the amount of high school end-of-course mandated exams for graduation from fifteen to five.
On a similar note, the New York Orchard Park Central School District proposed that the 2013 state assessments be used in evaluating the progress of the state in introducing the CCLS, as opposed to assessing the performance of students or the effectiveness of educators (Popham).
According to Popham, the level of poverty in the communities where various schools are situated does not serve as an indicator for the quality of education or instruction that occurs in the classroom but has the largest impact on the variation of test scores from one institution to the other. Besides the amount of wealth in the community where a school is located, the resources available in that school also affect its performance and test scores; hence the distinction in the scores of Beverly Hills’ schools and those in Birmingham.
Using test scores to evaluate teachers is erroneous since the scores of the students are only partly dependent on the kind of education that they receive. These scores are also a reflection of the interference of the community on the student’s education, long before the child interacted with the teacher in the classroom (Popham).
The results obtained from high-stakes tests inform the state of the resources available in a school, and the socioeconomic status of the community, but not about the quality of education provided within those schools. If standardized tests continue to be administered, the outcomes of those tests should be provided to parents, teachers, school districts, and other relevant parties for accountability purposes instead of using them for research and intricate systems for evaluating schools and teachers (Lunenburg).
Not sure if you can write a paper on American Education Reform by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More In addition, the purpose of testing should be to enhance instructions offered to students and assist in improving schools, rather than to sanction, punish and shut down schools. It is not rational to issue tests to students for the sole purpose of determining the impact that their educators have on imparting knowledge.
A measure of achievement should be one of the components used when assessing the school. Nelson (31) suggests that state and school districts should evaluate the cost implications of the entire testing and assessment systems employed in typical school districts, including the cost and time for test preparation and lost instructional time.
Nelson also proposes the incorporation of support measures to enhance the evaluation literacy of teachers that is required for improving and employing classroom assessments, as well as the appropriate utilization and interpretation of formal tests. It would then be the responsibility of the state to hold teachers accountable for employing the best assessment practices.
It is important that all parties concerned with testing students to determine their progress or check teacher and school effectiveness to streamline their processes.
To achieve this, school districts should include educators in the evaluation of testing systems to establish their usefulness in improving teaching, and in so doing, abolish any assessments that are not meaningful. In the effort to promote student knowledge acquisition, it may also be advisable to either reduce or abolish interim testing since they have no useful impact in promoting the teaching process.
Nelson claims that these tests are exceedingly complicated, confusing, and do not reflect the state standards, but instead lead to an increase in “bubble students” and mediocrity. While in this process, it may also be advisable to do away with redundant, obsolete state tests and establish Common Core assessments designed by PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) or SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) as the only state-mandated assessments.
In conclusion, teachers should embark on processes that allow them to drastically reduce the time spent on assessment preparation and benchmark testing. This can be achieved by shifting their focus from administering old tests to gaining new skills and knowledge that is vital for executing the Common Core standards in a setting that does not motivate learning through the promise of reward and punishment.
Another way to save on time and costs is to embed assessments in instructional materials. This can be achieved through challenging tasks and projects that require students to engage at their own pace, and use brief tests to check their comprehension in the course of the training schedule.
Works Cited Lunenburg, Fred C. “America’s Obsession with Student Testing: Costs in Money and Lost Instructional Time.” International Journal f Scholarly Academic Intellectual Diversity 15.1 (2013): 1-4. Print.
Nelson, Howard. Testing More, Teaching Less What America’s Obsession with Student Testing Costs in Money and Lost Instructional Time. Washington, D.C: American Federation of Teachers, 2013. Print.
Popham, James. Classroom evidence of successful teaching, mastering assessment. Boston, MA: Allyn
What Attitudes, Beliefs, and Assumptions Correlate with Individual Support for Hate Crimes Directed at the Muslim Community Post September 11, 2001? Research Paper
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Problem or Objective
Subject for Study
Introduction Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Muslims have become victims of hate crimes because of the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that link them to terrorism. According to various academic research publications, counter terrorist groups and other Muslim groups including the Metropolitan police, there were about 962 Islamophobic offenses in London in early 2009 (Umbreit, Lewis,