Pro: Standardized testing is needed to measure growth. 

 

Recently, United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, issued a letter to state school chiefs announcing the administration’s plans to enforce national standardized testing requirements for K-12 students. Schools are expected to proceed with administering standardized tests such as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the California Science Test (CAST). 

The administration expects states to adhere to the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA), which requires states to annually administer assessments in language arts and mathematics each spring. In March and April, the Education Department temporarily suspended testing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite the pandemic, continuing to suspend federal standardized testing will be detrimental to students. Schools should proceed with standardized testing, as it is necessary to incite beneficial educational reforms and enable districts to appropriately allocate funding and resources during these times. 

State standardized testing results are crucial to identifying needed educational reforms, as shown by the reforms following the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s analysis of standardized testing results in 2007. After ranking near the bottom of all states, Tennessee implemented Common Core standards to improve middle school knowledge of Mathematics and Language Arts. By 2014, Tennessee was the fastest improving state in terms of student achievements in eighth-grade reading and math. As evident through Tennessee students’ academic growth, standardized testing is needed to identify shortcomings in state education systems and prompt effective reform. Without standardized testing, states would not be able to implement educational reforms benefiting students.

Administering state standardized testing enables school districts to properly allocate funds and resources during the coronavirus crisis. According to Washington State Senator Patricia Lynn Murray in a statement released in response to DeVos’ letter, collecting data on state testing scores helps reveal disparities harming students of color, students with disabilities and low-income students. Especially during these unprecedented times, understanding why and where students are falling short permits school districts to effectively allocate extra resources and funds to assist students in those areas. Therefore, schools can better support those underprivileged or at-risk students through the analysis of test scores. 

Some may argue that during the coronavirus pandemic, state standardized testing is an unnecessary burden, especially because it does not instigate academic growth. However, a study conducted by Richard P. Phelps, an educational policy researcher, discovered students in schools with testing programs learn more than their counterparts in schools without testing requirements; testing scores motivate teachers to provide more effective instruction and students to work to earn a higher score. Therefore, state standardized testing is needed during this time of uncertainty to motivate students toward academic growth. 

State standardized testing should continue to be administered, particularly during these times, as it reveals when and what educational reforms are needed and provides school districts with data to distribute funds and resources.