U.S. Department of Education’s ‘Testing Action Plan’ calls for caps on testing

students in classroom testingIn an attempt to limit the amount of student testing, the U.S. Department of Education has released a “Testing Action Plan” that calls for a limit to the amount of time students spend on standardized tests — specifically, no more than 2 percent of classroom time in a school year.

In fact, the Department of Education is offering grants to assist states with streamlining and reducing assessments. But federal testing mandates are not changing, so it will be up to states and school districts to cut back on testing at the local level.

California has pursued this course before. In a statement released by the California Department of Education, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson stated, “In 2013-2014, we worked hard to obtain a double testing waiver that the federal government was reluctant to approve.”

The release cited California’s progress in eliminating testing in the second grade in English language arts and mathematics, as well as a variety of end-of-course assessments, including world history, geometry and integrated math. Recently, California suspended the California High School Exit Exam for the next three years.

Last spring, California implemented the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP, that tests students in grades three through eight and 11 in English language arts and mathematics, along with administering science assessments in grades five, eight and 10.

While both advocates and critics of testing agree that too much time spent testing is an issue, it’s important not to lose site of the goal of testing in California. The data from standardized tests give teachers and administrators the feedback they need to modify, refine and differentiate instruction. Annual measures allow for a data-driven approach to teaching and learning and are an important resource that provides a measure of the efficacy of education reform efforts.

Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares reiterated in a prior Newsroom post, that educators are “recognizing the enormous potential of using these assessments to take instruction to the next level,” stressing the need for strong participation.

You can learn more about California’s standards aligned tests on the CAASPP website.