Opinion: States should use pandemic to create more relevant tests

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Image source: Deborah Cannon

Non-party chairman Stephen Pruitt (Stephen Pruitt)

In a guest column in Atlanta, it was written that the pandemic provided an opportunity for states to overhaul tests and make them more relevant and useful.

SREB is a compact of 16 states, including Georgia, funded by member grants and contracts and grants from foundations, local, state, and federal agencies. Pruitt started out as a high school chemistry teacher in Fayette County and held leadership positions in the Georgia Department of Education. Prior to joining SREB in 2018, Pruitt was the State Education Commissioner of Kentucky.

As the pandemic continues to affect schools and families in 2021, Georgia and every state should try to get schools out of accountability, which will judge their quality based on student test scores.

The head of Georgia's school, Richard Woods, and the State Board of Education have recently changed the rules so that this spring's state exam results have little impact on Georgia's school accountability rules.

Considering the trauma suffered by many students in the past year, it is unfair to do nothing less. Even before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, too many students faced major obstacles in life.

To be clear, we should provide status testing this spring. It's just that this year's accountability system results are not very reliable.

Taking a step back, why not take this opportunity to overhaul the tests to make them more relevant to students and more useful to the school?

Image source: Marvin Young

We can also increase the sense of responsibility of the school by introducing some indicators, which for the first time cannot show us whether students have the opportunities they deserve. No student should be invisible. Our state cannot afford the persistence of differences in the quality of children’s education. The test and measurement of school quality must reflect our clear mission to public schools: everything we do in education must focus on cultivating students’ knowledge so that they can pursue the life and career they want.

After all, we are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution. Because of technology, everyone’s work is changing dramatically, and

Some of the largest work departments in our state-food preparation and service, production, transportation, and office or administrative duties-may be eliminated or undergo major changes in the next five years.

As many as 18 million Southerners, including 1.5 million Georgians, face "unemployment" because they lack the skills and education to adapt to these changes

Unless we have tests and some type of accountability system for schools to improve, we will not know whether we have achieved our goals.

The new Secretary of Education in the United States should establish a new vision for state examinations and make them more useful to educators, policymakers, and students, and encourage the state to improve school accountability.

Make the test more meaningful to educators and students. Bad data can be worse than no data.

State algebra exams can be tailored for welding careers. Students studying aerospace engineering may encounter related physics problems. Students studying agriculture can take a biological test that asks about soil samples instead of more obscure things.

The federal government should give each state time to establish high-quality, affordable exams that are more closely related to the courses students are studying, especially when the state is revising its academic level. If it only means that inappropriate multiple choice exams will continue to exist, the states should not be allowed to postpone the exam.

To prepare students for a more advanced work environment also means that all students have the same academic qualifications, but are more relevant to every young person.

A sign made by a Kentucky high school student using a plasma welder was posted on my desk in Atlanta. The student knew coding well enough to make it clear, but he held his breath and told me that he hated math. I must help him check the connection. What if the status test also makes these links clear?

The new government can provide two-year delays for states wishing to overhaul exams and provide funds to develop exams, and teachers are the core of the process.

The states can use the two years and the money saved by not taking the exams to develop exams that are more relevant to students' interests and preparation.

In this way, our grasp of student performance will be more accurate than any series of routine questions on a given date.

Each state’s school accountability system still needs to include test scores so that states and school systems can check the progress of students and make education more equitable for all. federal

This requires testing.

However, if the accountability system is mainly based on the student's test scores, then the scores will attract all the attention. Federal law requires test scores to be only the basis of most school accountability. The goal of a high-quality school accountability system should be to act as a flashlight, check areas for improvement, and focus on the health of our school.

How do the states do differently? We can report the number of colored and poor students in each school and region. These students have (or do not) have access to art, advanced courses, and career and technical pathways that can lead to meaningful certificates and various types of colleges. . Nowadays, schools also need to support the well-being of students through mental health consultants, school nurses and related resources.

We should insist on setting high standards for each child, a high school diploma or similar low-level certificate without professional qualifications. Very few low-skilled jobs will soon be provided, and more people will have to rely on government subsidies to make ends meet.

By providing access to valuable workplace certificates and post-secondary opportunities, we can make the most of our students' potential. Everyone needs to become a viable member of the workforce and economic system as soon as possible.

With appropriate opportunities and support, every student can accomplish great things. Let us establish a student-related test and school accountability method that will make sense for 2021 and beyond.

About the author

Maureen Downey

Since the 1990s, Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion articles on local, state and federal education policy.

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