Since One-Stop Early Voting began, I have had the privilege to speak to so many voters about education, and so many have asked me about what I think about standardized tests and common core standards. Many of these voters were educators, parents, and some who wore both hats. I’m sharing my thoughts about the above topic because so many felt my stance was critical for others to hear to be informed, particularly in light of the cancellation of many usual election time events due to COVID restrictions. Many constituents who haven’t voted yet and don’t know which candidate(s) to vote for Caldwell County Board of Education. Remember, you don’t have to select 3; you can vote for just one candidate if you feel strongly for them or select up to 3 candidates. I want to be as transparent about my stance as possible so that our community may make an educated decision when they head to the polls.
Let me begin by defining the term standardized test. Standardized test – It is a method of assessment built on the principle of consistency: all test takers are required to answer the same questions, and all answers are graded in the same predetermined way. Okay, has anyone ever seen two children that are the same, learn at the same pace, retain information the same, test the same way, or perform the same on a said test? Similar styles, maybe, but definitely not the same! Personally speaking, I can absolutely tell you that my children aren’t the same, and they most certainly have totally opposite learning styles.
So, there is testing, remediation, retesting, Common Core standards, Read to Achieve Testing, mClass testing, and the list goes on and on and on! It’s so stressful for everyone involved; educators, parents, and, most of all, for our children who are taking them. Here is a little tidbit of info from me personally, midway through Kindergarten, my oldest child started experiencing anxiety and panic attacks. Do you want to guess what the reason was? Yep! You guessed it! Common Core had begun, and she had heard and been told so many times about this super hard test that she would have to take when she was a 3rd grader, and if she didn’t perform to a certain degree, then she wouldn’t pass. What my child heard for the first time in her life was that if she weren’t capable of performing to a certain predetermined level no matter how hard she tried, then she would be in trouble, then punished all because she wasn’t good enough! How sad is that? I mean, this was a 6-year-old!
Of course, a certain amount of assessments are needed, but not as many as we currently have now in North Carolina. I feel that educators are stuck in this constant, never-ending cycle of testing their students, and when they aren’t doing that, they have to squeeze in an almost impossibly large amount of test curriculum! Of course, this is me speaking as a mother of two school-aged children, but it feels to me sometimes that our children are being taught to test. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Currently, NC can’t do much when it comes to federally-mandated tests like (EOG) – End of Grade exams and (EOC) End of Course exams. The following list is a list of state-mandated standardized tests: mClass for grades K-3, Kindergarten Entry Assessment, K-2 Math assessment, Beginning-of-Grade 3 (BOG3) for ELA/reading, Read to Achieve test for grade 3 and grade 4, pre-ACT test for grade 10, and NC final exams for grades 3-8 math, grades 4-8 reading, and high school courses that are non-EOC math, science, social studies, or English and finally ACCESS for ELLs (for English language learners). That list you just read is what we need to all work towards reducing or handing it back over to our teachers to measure.
I feel we need to work harder toward reducing the amount of required assessments and let our teachers teach our children to truly learn, not merely teach for the sake of testing. NC has the authority to eliminate these tests entirely. At the very least, I think we need a better modality or design in how the state gives these tests and a review of the test content. To sum it all up, I think the photos that I’ve attached below pretty much say it all about how I feel about standardized testing!