Student assessment: Teachers v. policymakers

The least valuable measures of student academic achievement, according to teachers, are: tests from textbooks (4 percent); district-required tests (6 percent); state-required standardized tests (7 percent); and final exams (10 percent).

When teachers were asked whether the state standardized tests were “meaningful benchmarks” to measure students’ progress or to compare schools, only 5 percent agreed strongly.

It is interesting that the least useful measures, in the eyes of teachers, are the state-required standardized tests that policymakers use to punish and reward students, teachers, principals, and schools. Only 7 percent of teachers consider them to be “absolutely essential” measures of their students’ academic performance. Yet, to policymakers, this same measure is the only one that matters.

Diane Ravitch via

2 Responses to “Student assessment: Teachers v. policymakers”

  1. Unfortunately for teachers, we are the ones with the least amount of say in the whole discussion of standardized testing. If we advocate against them we get attacked for not wanting our students to do well, we get called lazy, incompetent, or both. Most teachers I know have absolutely no problem with assessing their students’ progress and knowledge, the problem is when the test becomes the sole way that my efficacy as a teacher is measured.

    On a related note, it has always seemed to me that measuring the progress of my students from one year with the progress of my students form a different year is a completely invalid statistical measure. The student sI have this year are completely different than the students I had last year or will have next year. Heck, they are even different from day to day.

  2. If you click over to my blog you can see a couple of posts I have done recently on mindfulness and reflection, and mention of the great read “Tuning In”. One of the authors, Douglas Tsoi did a great piece on his tests with student self-assessment in Upper School English class. This took courage since he teaches at a college prep school and students want/need to those grades for their transcripts, yet he found such authentic reflection taking place that it outweighed those fears.

    Any tactic that creates greater student ownership of the learning process is better than any tactic which reduces this. In my view, students should create the tests/assessment tools themselves, and then use their own creations.

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