This resolution was supported, unanimously, by the Vacaville Teachers Association Representative Council on February 5th, 2013.
THE VACAVILLE TEACHER ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS THE TEACHERS AT GARFIELD HIGH SCHOOL BECAUSE HIGH STAKES STANDARDIZED TESTS ARE OVERUSED AND OVERRATED
THE USE OF STANDARDIZED TESTS IS SPREADING
To fulfill the requirements of the No Child Left Behind legislation, schools in all 50 states administer standardized tests to students, often beginning in third grade, in reading and math. Now, in response to the demands of Race to the Top and the trend toward greater “accountability” in education, states are developing even more tests for more subjects. Standardized tests, once used primarily to assess student learning, have now become the main instrument for the high-stakes evaluation of teachers, administrators, and even entire schools and school systems.
TESTS CONSUME A GREAT DEAL OF TIME AND MONEY
Standardized testing is consuming an ever-growing proportion of education budgets nationwide. The total price tag may be nearly two billion dollars. Texas alone spent, last year, $90 million on standardized testing. These tests are not a one hour or one day affair, but now can swallow up whole weeks of classroom time. In Chicago, some students must complete 13 standardized tests each year.
TESTING HURTS STUDENTS
In the name of “raising standards” the growth of high stakes standardized testing has effectively lowered them. As the stakes for standardized tests are raised higher and higher, administrators and teachers have been forced to spend less time on arts, sciences, social studies, and physical education, and more time on tested subjects. The pressure to prepare students for standardized exams forces teachers to narrow instruction to only that material which will be tested. With the fate of whole schools and school systems at stake, cheating scandals have flourished, exposing many reform “miracles” in the process. Worse, focusing so much energy on testing undermines the intrinsic value of teaching and learning, and makes it more difficult for teachers and students to pursue authentic teaching and learning experiences.
RESEARCH DOES NOT SUPPORT USING TESTS TO EVALUATE TEACHERS
As a means of assessing student learning, standardized tests are limited. No student’s intellectual process can be reduced to a single number. As a means of assessing teachers, these results are even more problematic. Research suggests that much of the variability in standardized test results is attributable to factors OTHER than the teacher. So-called “value-added” models for teacher evaluation have a large margin of error, and are not reliable measures of teacher performance.
EDUCATORS ARE TAKING A STAND FOR AUTHENTIC TEACHING AND LEARNING
In a nearly unanimous vote, the staff at Garfield High school in Seattle decided to refuse to administer the district’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. Research has shown that this test has no significant impact on reading scores. While serving other low-stakes district purposes in the Seattle Public Schools, it is only used as a high-stakes measure for teachers, even though the test’s developers (the Northwest Evaluation Association) have noted the inappropriateness of using tests for such evaluations. In taking this action, the educators at Garfield High School have struck a blow against the overuse and misuse of standardized tests, and deserve support.
We, the Vacaville Teachers Association, stand with these brave teachers and against the growing standardized testing industrial complex.