Teachers, parents and students taking a closer look at the value of high-stakes standardized tests


Locally, teachers at Garfield High School voted unanimously to refuse to give the Measure of Academic Progress test because they said it doesn’t fit with state standards, wastes classroom time and provides results that aren’t that helpful for improving learning. The teachers made clear they oppose this test, not all standardized tests. Advocates say it’s likely the first time in this country an entire school boycotted a required test.

Then the staff at Nathan Hale High School voted to forgo giving juniors a new federally-mandated Common Core test. They voted to boycott this test after a lot of thought and discussion, including two community forums and a presentation from an expert on high-stakes testing from the University of Washington. They offered a long list of reasons, among them: The test isn’t required for graduation, colleges don’t use it this year and the test isn’t a valid, reliable or equitable assessment.

Refusing to take the test may have serious implications not just for Nathan Hale, but for potentially for the entire district if the federal government decides to pull funding.

In a letter to parents, Principal Jill Hudson explained why the school wants to boycott the test:

“In my time as an educator, I have experienced the progression from assessments that provided feedback to teachers to help them improve their craft, to the current battery of tests that simply label students with a score. The tests that students take now do not provide feedback to help diagnose problems to be remedied, but instead function as autopsies, the end result. Rather than allowing teachers to learn from the scores, these tests rank our students. And now with the new projected 70% failure rate, these tests may serve primarily to demoralize our students. Why would we want to do that to our future citizens? Is this the lesson in failure that we want them to learn? This propagates a fixed mind set. We want to promote a growth mind set, meaning that if you haven’t learned something you still have a chance to learn it.”

Take a look at this Facebook group of educators, parents and students called Seattle Opt Out who wish to deepen the conversation about high-stakes tests.

What do you think? Do your kids take too many standardized tests at school? E-mail your thoughts to parentbuzz@seattleschild.com.

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