Ensuring Testing Does Not Take Away From Student Learning

In too many school districts, parents and teachers feel overwhelmed by the amount of student testing that is going on in our classrooms.
 
Annual testing can be a useful yardstick to measure student progress and achievement, but too often our kids are inundated with duplicative tests that actually take time away from learning and instruction
 
Right now students take an average of 10 tests each year in grades 3 through 8. But the amount of testing can vary wildly by state and by district—students in some districts spend 100 more hours a year taking tests.
 
More of our students’ time in the classroom should be spent on learning, not on unnecessary and redundant testing.
 
That’s why I have introduced the Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely, or (SMART) Act, which would help to streamline and improve testing. The SMART Act would give states and school districts the tools they need to ensure that statewide and local tests are reliable and efficient, and would help them to eliminate outdated and redundant tests.
 
In Ohio, federally-mandated tests are responsible for 32 percent of testing time, and 26 percent of testing time is devoted to new assessments developed by the state to implement the new teacher evaluation system. That leaves the remaining 42 percent of testing time devoted to tests required by the state of Ohio and by local school districts—not the federal government.
 
The average student in Ohio spends almost 20 hours taking tests each year and another 15 additional hours practicing for tests. We need to give states and school districts more freedom to make sure testing is effective, efficient, and doesn’t take away from time spent learning.
 
That’s what the SMART Act would do, allowing states to audit their testing practices to eliminate tests are that are unnecessary and redundant. The bill would use an existing grant formula to increase the amount of support states and school districts receive to help them align testing materials to college- and career- ready standards.
 
The new grant formula would also allow states additional funds to audit existing testing practices, design more effective systems, and speed delivery of testing data to educators and parents.
 
And the SMART Act has broad support—it’s been endorsed by education supporters across the country, including the Ohio Education Association and the Ohio Federation of Teachers.
 
Tests are an important tool, and it’s critically important that we continue to assess every child’s learning.  But tests are only a means to an end—ensuring our kids get a good education.