President Obama says students are spending too much time in the classroom taking tests, many of them unnecessary, and urged officials in the country’s schools to take steps to administer fewer and more meaningful exams.
The White House said Saturday the proliferation of testing in the United States — a problem the administration acknowledged it has played a role in — has taken away too much valuable time that could be better spent on learning, teaching and fostering creativity in schools. To curb excessive testing, Obama recommended limiting standardized exams to no more than 2% of a student's instructional time in the classroom.
‘‘Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble,’’ Obama said in a video posted on Facebook. ‘‘So we’re going to work with states, school districts, teachers and parents to make sure that we’re not obsessing about testing.’’
Obama said in “moderation, smart, strategic” tests can help assess the progress of children in schools and help them learn. But he said that parents are concerned that too much time is being spent on testing, and teachers are under too much pressure to prepare students for exams.
In a 10-page plan, the White House outlined a series of steps to help educators end assessment that is burdensome or not benefiting students or teachers. The administration said the tests should be “worth taking,” time-limited and provide a “clearer picture” of whether students are learning.
Students in big-city public schools will take about 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and high school graduation, according to a study of 66 school districts released Saturday by the Council of Great City Schools.
Focus on testing in schools is misplaced: #tellusatoday
The average amount of time devoted to taking mandated tests during the 2014-15 school year was 4.2 days, or 2.3% of school time, for the average eighth-grader—the grade with the most mandated testing time.
Standardized testing has been a controversial issue as Congress looks to write a replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act. Parents, teacher groups and some local educators who have spoken out about the volume of testing in schools called the White House plan a victory.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the decision to rein in testing is “common sense” and an effort supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans.
“The fixation on high-stakes testing hasn't moved the needle on student achievement,” Weingarten said. “It's a big deal that the president and the secretaries of education — both current and future — are saying that they get it and are pledging to address the fixation on testing in tangible ways.”
A PDK/Gallup poll released this summer found a majority of about 4,500 adults reached by phone and online said there is too much emphasis being placed on standardized testing in public schools. The results showed that 64% of those who participated in the poll believe there is “too much emphasis on standardized testing” while 19% said it is “about the right amount.”
Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are expected to meet Monday with teachers and school officials to outline their plan.
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