Since former President Bush’s administration and his push for programs like No Child Left Behind, education in the United States has become one of standardized testing and teacher evaluations, where students have 112 tests from pre-K to 12th grade and teachers are paid based solely on the performance of their students. President Obama has now called a cap on testing, promising action in stopping an issue created not only the Bush administration but his own as well.
Obama said in his announcement on October 24 that he, along with his administration, would push Congress to limit time spent in classrooms on standardized tests to 2 percent in a guideline known as the “Testing Action Plan”.
The current bombardment of tests can be attributed to Bush’s push for programs that would ensure that students from low income communities would not be left behind. They were meant to be a way to catch any problems and correct them.
However, as time went on, the push for standardized tests intensified. Under Obama’s administration, programs like Race to the Top gave financial incentive for better educational standards, which, for many schools, meant more standardized testing.
Just last year, the Common Core standards were introduced, bringing in more testing. Even those schools that have not adopted Common Core have created something similar with similar exams.
Florida is one such example, creating the Florida State Assessment which is meant to be a replacement for Common Core. So far, the test has been riddled with computer issues, question issues, and it now lies in uncertainty on how to grade it, as there was never a benchmark implemented to help score the official test.
Many of these tests are also meant to help evaluate teachers, and based on that evaluation, teachers would be paid a certain amount. Teacher unions have objected, claiming that these tests often force teachers to come up with all new teaching plans while also only focusing on testing content rather than the way the teacher handles their classroom.
As such, Obama’s announcement has led to cheers from students, parents and teachers alike. However, the action plan is still only recommendations rather than anything binding.
Testing as a whole is also not going away anytime soon with Obama emphasizing the importance of testing for keeping things on track.
“Our kids should only take tests that are worth taking, tests that are high quality, aimed at good instruction and make sure everybody’s on track,” said Obama during his announcement. “Tests should enhance teaching and learning.”
By Nathalie Mairena