The 7 Biggest Complaints Teachers Have About Testing – And How To Fix Them
“Stop the standardized testing mania,” said 29% of teachers on National Teacher Day in 2013. The lack of support for such a large part of the educational system is remarkable. No teacher, administrator, student, parent, or guardian stands behind the use of standardized testing within the education system as ways to determine student success. The tests are frustrating, especially for educators. Educators are not against student assessments as they provide insight into the students’ development, personalize their learning, and give feedback on their instructional methods.
Almost everything that makes standardized testing frustrating can be fixed. Although there are many complaints about standardized testing, here are seven of the biggest (and most common) complaints:
- Bored And Frustrated Students. Educators don’t usually expect students to enjoy testing, and students rarely do. The experience is unpleasant for all students, as higher-achieving students grow bored while underachieving students grow frustrated and become anxious. Both can cause scores that are inaccurate and do not portray actual ability levels.
The Fix: CAT testing is the solution. Computer-adaptive tests automatically adjust the difficulty of the questions based upon the student’s previous responses. Not only do they have fewer questions to answer, but they also provide a test suited for the student’s skill level.
- Inconsistent Data. Gathering data from different tests and sources across the different education levels can prove challenging. Attempting to manage and sort the results into an understandable format is nearly impossible.
The Fix: Use a single assessment across all grades. This can include gathering data from multiple different sources to combine for a single result, such as summative tests, student practice programs, and interim assessments.
- Postponed Results. Taking the assessment itself can take a few days, typically there is no room for all students to take the test all at once or the test comes in portions that must be taken separately. Once they’re completed, they have to be sent off for grading, causing an even longer wait.
The Fix: Educators can’t control the timing of results, but they should have options for getting the results from the district and school exams quicker.
- Too Much Testing. From the east coast to the west coast, there has been increasing scrutiny over the amount of testing required of students. While some states allow families to opt-out of the exams for their children, it is limited to only state exams and does not cover the district, school, or classroom exams.
The Fix: Create assessments that serve multiple purposes. Too much testing can skew results, but too little testing can leave you with a lack of data. Reduce the number of tests, but add more versatile tests.
- Lack Of Action. Sure there is a lot of data gathered through frequent testing and standardized testing, but what happens with that data? What do educators use it for? How exactly do they implement procedures to support students learning based on these results? That’s the problem; educators don’t know, they’re confused.
The Fix: Link assessments to learning progression. A student’s score will place them on a ranking scale that will determine their understanding of the material.
- Waste Of Time. As students take more and more exams and tests throughout the years, they’re losing precious instructional time. Tests can take between 1 hour to 4 hours, imagine taking these tests 20-30 times per year. How much time is taken? Too much.
The Fix: Not much can be done about the length of state tests, but restricting the duration of school and district tests can help out. Reduce the frequency of the tests or their length.
- Oppose State Standards. All educators hope, and some assume that testing lines up with state standards. It’s surprising how often that is not the case. Claiming that a test is specific to the standards and then offering the same test to all states is contradicting.
The Fix: Double check that the tests are aligned with your needs, especially with the state standards in mind.
Happy Educators, Successful Students
When the teachers are happy, then the students will succeed. Expecting an educator to push through the testing hardships without respect, consultation, or providing benefits for the students is unrealistic. Educators are more likely to become overpowered by the stress of testing rather than be able to prepare students for the rigorous tests. It is vital that their opinions be taken into consideration and put into effect; they are trained and work with students every day; therefore, their thoughts should hold more weight than they do.