Putting testing to the test

In response to the lack of evidence surrounding debate in the US over whether pupils are being over tested, the Council of the Great City Schools has conducted a detailed study on testing. They examined test practices at primary and secondary level in 66 of the largest urban school districts during the 2014-15 school year.

The authors found that the average pupil took eight standardised tests a year. Grade 8 (Year 9) pupils were tested the most, spending an average of 4.22 days per year being tested. Yet there was no correlation between the amount of test time and maths and reading achievement.

The study also revealed a number of problems with testing. States reported having to wait 2-4 months for school-level test results meaning the data could not usefully guide teaching, test results were used in ways they weren’t intended to be (eg, to judge an individual staff member’s performance), the tests themselves were not an accurate measure of content knowledge, and pupils were tested in the same subject more than once for different reasons.

A survey of the parents revealed that they support testing that accurately reflects their child’s performance in school, and that they do not support more difficult tests.

Source: Student testing in America’s great city schools: An inventory and preliminary analysis (2015), Council of the Great City Schools.

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