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Robert Cotto, Jr., an elected member of the Hartford (CT) board of education, says that the state could save millions of dollars by reducing testing. Annual testing has been a waste of money. Before No Child Left Behind, Connecticut tested children in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10. Now it tests every child in 3-8 every year.
“Reducing the tests that students take in each subject to only grades four, six, eight, and ten could save millions of dollars. The funds saved could help limit any budget cuts that will affect communities across the state, particularly for the most vulnerable children and families. Cutting testing in this way could also result in yearly savings of up to $9.5 million. That’s half of current state spending to administer the tests.
“At best, the evidence is mixed regarding the impact of spending more on testing and ratcheting up punishments. Here are some trends:
“Same data: With the exception of a few new features, the State reports and uses nearly the same type of test information today as it did more than a decade ago.
“Addition through subtraction: Increases in test results over the last decade didn’t happen until students with disabilities (mostly low-income, Black and Latino children) were removed from regular tests.
“Same disparities: The results of the “low-stakes,” sample-based National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have shown high overall test results of children in Connecticut, but little diminishing of race and class-based disparities. This historical pattern remains even after more than a decade of increased testing and punishments.
“Collateral damage: Curriculum hours in Connecticut narrowed to focus on the tested subjects. Students spent more time taking and practicing for tests throughout the year, taking away time for instruction.
“The State now uses the test results to rate students, schools, districts, and teachers.
“This isn’t educational progress.”
What really matters, he writes, is support for students, families, and communities. That’s a far better investment than high-stakes bubble tests.