A former teacher serving on the Metro school board is taking aim at the number of standardized tests students are taking each year.
Board member Jill Speering, a retired teacher of 35 years, plans to pitch a resolution at next week’s school board meeting putting pressure on the district and the state to curb the number of tests students need to take, alleging they place “undue stress” on students and are “often unreliable” for measuring student and teacher effectiveness.
“Imposing relentless test preparation and boring memorization of facts to ‘enhance’ test performance is doing little more than stealing the love of learning from our students and discouraging creativity,” read the resolution.
While the document looks to glean information from district officials on how many hours students spend the in the classroom preparing for tests, the measure also would put the state on the spot. The measure would demand the governor and legislature rethink the tests and “develop a system based on multiple forms of assessments that accurately reflect a wide range of acquisition of student knowledge.”
Speering’s resolution also seeks to “abolish” the “high stakes” standardized tests for kindergarteners through second graders and asks the district to tally up the number of standardized tests and hours students spend in the classroom preparing for them.
Earlier in the week, House Speaker Beth Harwell told reporters teachers are sharing concerns with her about the volume of testing in schools, but said the exams are the center point to education reforms implemented across the state and worth keeping.
“That’s worth us looking into what current contracts do we have for testing, how much is it costing the state, how often are these children tested every school year. But keep in mind, data is so critical for the reform that’s needed in education,” she said.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has said he is a supporter of the level of standardized testing the state is doing because it drives improvement.
“We at the state level feel like we need to measure results and we need to know how we’re doing. There’s no way to know what areas you need to improve in if you aren’t measuring something,” Huffman told reporters last month.
“I think we can’t live in a world where we pretend that everybody is doing OK, so it’s necessary to measure and see whether we’re making progress, what are the things we do well, what are the things we have to do better. If you don’t measure, you don’t really have a sense of how you’re doing,” he said.
The school board is expected to vote on the resolution at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 1