Task force can lead to better state testing

Published 7:59 pm Monday, April 16, 2018

Are students subjected to too much test-taking? Ask any parent — and likely any teacher — and they will say “yes.”

The state’s Department of Education obviously has heard from concerned parents and educators about excessive test-taking and has created a task force to study the issue.

Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, announced Monday that she will convene the first Mississippi Student Testing Task Force to examine current student testing on the state and local school district levels and to determine best practices for monitoring student progress in meeting grade-level and subject area learning goals, a press release from MDE stated.

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“We have heard concerns from parents, lawmakers and educators about the amount of testing on the state and district levels and the time spent on test preparation in schools. We believe that through the work of the task force we can come up with reasonable recommendations that will address these concerns while ensuring accountability among schools and districts to prepare our students for their next step, whether it’s the next grade, the workforce, military or college,” Wright said.

The goals of the task force are:

• To determine the types, quality and amount of tests students take on the state and district level;

• To provide recommendations on ways to ensure student testing is streamlined but measures the learning goals designed by Mississippi teachers; and

• To discover and recommend best practices for student testing on the state and district level.

It’s no secret that over testing is a problem. A study in 2015 found that a typical student takes 112 mandated, standardized tests between pre-K and 12th grade. According to the study, eighth graders spend about 25 hours during the school year taking standardized tests.

Accountability is needed when it comes to education. Bench marks are needed, too. Testing can help with both of those. But redundant and unnecessary testing only harms students. Hopefully, the state’s new task force can lighten students’ testing load.