Bi-Partisan Agreement for Better, Fairer, and Fewer Tests

Support for assessments that measure how students are progressing is a bi-partisan no-brainer.

Annual assessments aligned to the Common Core match the skills and content students are learning and practicing in the classroom on a daily basis. Results from the assessments are one of several indicators, in combination with report cards, teacher feedback, and classroom work, used to create a complete picture of a student’s progress in school. While too much testing is never a good thing, neither is opting out, which denies students, teachers, and parents  valuable information.

To help foster a more forward-thinking and productive dialogue around testing, the Center for American Progress developed the Testing Bill of Rights – which articulates a set of common-sense principles that can help in continuing the shift towards better, fairer, and fewer tests. The Testing Bill of Rights articulates the value of assessments that provide an objective measure of progress towards college and career-readiness.

Already, the dialogue around testing is changing, as national leaders assert the value of high-quality assessments. Writing in The Hill, Janet Murguía, the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, asserted that, “for Latinos, success in the United States has always meant opting in and fully participating in our country’s ongoing quest to improve.”

Delaware Governor Jack Markell praised the framework that the Testing Bill of Rights provides and described the importance of tying assessments to high academic standards like the Common Core. “This rigorous set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do has already begun to raise the bar for millions of students. Measuring students’ improvement – and figuring out where students need help as they adjust to the new standards – is only possible with the aid of high-quality assessments tied to the Common Core.”

Recent research released by Be a Learning Hero shows that nearly 90 percent of parents believe that their child is performing at or above grade level in math and reading, even as data from the Nation’s Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tells us that, in reality, only one-third of students nationwide are performing at those levels. This gap between perception and reality only underscores the importance of strengthening our testing systems so that they are providing parents with the right information about where their kids stand on their path to college and career readiness.

While there’s strong bi-partisan support for high-quality assessments, it’s important for parents to know about the resources that are free and available right now. Here is a sampling of resources that can help:

  • Be a Learning Hero’s Readiness Roadmap identifies a number of tools and resources available to help parents better understand what their kids are learning and how they’re performing: http://bealearninghero.org/readinessroadmap
  • Descriptions of the skills and knowledge children in each grade are expected to learn are available in the PTA Parents’ Guide to Success at http://www.pta.org/parentsguide or Univision’s Clave al Éxito at http://exito.univision.com/
  • The Great Kids State Test Guide provides English language arts and math help for parents: greatschools.org/gk/common-core-test-guide/
  • Practice Test available: For parents (or anyone else) there’s a free practice test available online that provide a sense of the types of reading, math, and writing questions that appear on the annual statewide test. Parents and students can find a two-minute video that walks through a few questions:

Like the video above? Watch Gov. Brewer and Gov. Richarson discuss why assessments are valuable to teachers and students too!