Dear “Dear JCPS,”
While I do not work in JCPS, I am a lifelong Louisville resident. I believe in the work you are doing, and think it’s a necessary component of public discourse about our schools. I am a [central office administrator] in a neighboring county.
Many, many of us from the classroom to central offices throughout the state are sick and tired of the grind of testing. While we value data, it is my personal belief that we have gone far overboard with accountability testing, and furthermore tied too many stakes to testing that have no business being associated with the ‘test’.
I think now that an advocacy organization [like Dear JCPS] could … help stop this insane amount of testing we do, and the insane amount of money we are paying educational conglomerates to do it.
(This speech was presented to the JCPS Board of Education on 2/9/16. Due to the 3 minute time limit, this speech is a continuation from Buffy Sexton’s speech.)
Parents tell us:
My child takes so many tests I don’t even know what they are or why they’re taking them. Am I the only parent confused when they throw these test names out at Parent Teacher conferences??
My little guy missed due to bronchitis and missed 2 tests just for today + has another tomorrow.
I told my kids they were no longer requiring diagnostic tests and their response was, “That is false advertising, we just took two today.”
These quotes from parents and teachers demonstrate three areas where unnecessary high stakes testing could be reduced right away for immediate benefit.
Dear JCPS would like to make the following recommendations:
- As the teacher quotes conveyed, tests conducted on grades K-2, ECE and ESL populations are the ones we hear most frequently to be age-inappropriate, unfair and cruel. In addition, by deflating self-esteem and promoting a sense of hopelessness, these tests also undermine the potential for future success of testing on these populations down the road. Our first recommendation is to eliminate ALL high stakes tests on grades K-2, ECE and ESL students.
- Research shows that income is linked to standardized test results, yet low income “gap” students who test poorly are subjected to significantly more standardized tests than high performing students. Our second recommendation is that the district place a limit on the percentage of time students in priority schools can spend on standardized tests (e.g., no more than 5%). There is a similar bill in the Kentucky legislature that would set this limit in place for all students. Our district could proactively implement that strategy in priority schools now.
- Lastly, parents have a right and responsibility to ensure the tests their children take are beneficial. Yet, as you heard, patents are lost and unsure if their options. We recommend schools proactively send home notifications of upcoming assessments. These notifications should include the amount of time spent preparing for the assessments, costs, and what impact the tests will have toward guiding instruction or qualifying for entrance into future school placement. Should parents wish to refuse unnecessary tests for their student, a sample high-stakes test refusal letter can be found on our website.
Eliminating unnecessary standardized testing not only offers opportunities to align with the Vision 2020 strategy, but it also offers cost and resource savings for the school and district, frees up class time to focus on learning, enrichment and other valuable educational opportunities, and also restores a love of learning and teaching in the classroom.