Today’s homework assignment: Call your local school district and ask them for the entire list of standardized tests that they give to students in your community.
In Bridgeport, for example, rather than waste time learning, students will spend next week taking the new round of standardized “bench-mark” tests that “education reformer” and Superintendent of Schools, Paul Vallas, has ordered.
But Bridgeport is not alone; Cities and towns all across Connecticut have dramatically expanded the number of standardized tests they give to our children.
Along with the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), Bridgeport is adding three new rounds of “CMT-like” tests. Together, these four tests will disrupt more than 3 weeks of instructional time.
But those tests are just the tip of the iceberg.
Make the call and you’ll find that your town suspend actual teaching activities in order to have their students take many of the following tests, or tests similar to the following.
There are the Direct Reading Assessment (DRA) or Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) tests. There are the Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Performance (NWEA MAP) tests.
Then there are the LAS, LAU and NOCTI tests.
Add in PSAT and SATs for high school juniors and seniors.
And, of course that doesn’t even count all of the practice tests and reading prompts that begin as early as 1st grade.
A seasoned veteran estimated that, during the period from 3rd grade through 12th grade, students and teachers devote upwards toward 30 or more school days a year taking these standardized tests.
The newest initiatives are adding even more standardized assessments, this time for children in Kindergarten through 2nd grade.
All this means that Connecticut’s students are spending as many as 300 days taking standardized tests during their primary and secondary education. 300 days being the equivalent of at least a year and a half of what would otherwise be learning time.
These 300 days don’t even count the real academic testing, the tests that measure whether the student has learned the particular curriculum; the tests that are actually needed to give students their grades.
Meanwhile, the costs of the myriad of tests are astronomical.
An employee of the Connecticut State Department of Education estimated that the CMT/CAPT tests cost about $24.5 million a year. The federal government picks up about $6 million of that, with the rest paid for by Connecticut’s taxpayers.
Add in all of the other standardized tests and we are probably paying well over $50 million a year on standardized testing in Connecticut schools.
So on Monday, when the students of Bridgeport spend their day taking a Reading Comprehension test, or on Tuesday, when it is Editing and Revising, or on Wednesday, when it is Mathematics – Part 1, or on Thursday, when it is Mathematics – Part 2, take a moment to appreciate the irony that, thanks to Bridgeport’s “Education Reformers,” Bridgeport’s students, and our tax dollars, are being spent for even more testing, rather than on actual teaching.
I think they call it – Made in America.