Skip to main content

Secretary of Education voices support for standardized testing

MONDAY, JANUARY 12, 2015 10:34 AM

With the development and implementation of Common Core State Standards testing came an increased focus on the topic. In fact, some have voiced concerns that students have too many assessments on their plates while others wonder whether schools need these exams at all. In the turbulence of opinions stands Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who recently gave a speech explaining why he supports the practice. His statement, which he gave Monday, Jan. 12, noted that annual evaluation of students' reading and math skills is necessary for tracking their college and career readiness. 

Good intentions
The No Child Left Behind bill, which was signed into law in 2002, mandates that all students in grades three through eight must take math and reading assessments annually. They also have to take one test in high school. However, some states have received pardons. Additionally, many feared teachers would focus too much on test content during class, leaving less time to cover curriculum.

Despite some of the unexpected results of the bill, some legislators and educators believe the intentions behind it are positive. By completing the exams each year, students will have a better understanding of how close they are to meeting graduation readiness. Is their knowledge strong enough to help them succeed in college and careers? What areas should they focus on this year? Having test scores helps them answer those questions. At least, that's what Duncan argued.

"I believe parents, teachers, and students have both the right and the need to know how much progress all students are making each year towards college- and career-readiness," Duncan said in a statement. "That means all students need to take annual, statewide assessments that are aligned with their teacher's classroom instruction in reading and math in grades 3-8, and once in high school."

Upcoming exams
In spring of 2015, students who are between grades three and eight, and some high schoolers, will take assessments aligned with the Common Core. This is the first time they'll take an updated version of the exam - students completed assessments in the past, but those were still in a pilot or trial period. Ideally, as students and teachers become more familiar with the Common Core, students will perform better on the test. 

Generally, standardized assessment scores factor into school funding and teacher evaluation. However, states can apply to postpone stakes on this year's Common Core testing. Many teachers feel they need more time to implement and understand the Standards before taking ownership of how well their students learn them.