Anti-testing advocates frequently decry the amount of time students spend on state summative assessments. I must admit that I’m persuaded that it’s gotten out of hand—in Connecticut, where I lived for the past 6 years, nearly every public school student in the state spent the better part of March taking tests. Even if the tests were better, it’s hard to justify taking 3-4 weeks out of a roughly 36-week school year away from instruction. But maybe it doesn’t have to be this way?
It’s hard to justify taking 3-4 weeks out of a roughly 36-week school year away from instruction.
There is an old engineering maxim: “Good, fast, cheap; pick two.” When it comes to summative state assessments, we seem to have picked just one: cheap.
The truth is, if we want to build a better assessment, we need to set a more ambitious goal. The current crop of time consuming, low-quality tests isn’t the way the world needs to work; it’s simply the byproduct of a failure of imagination and leadership.
But what if we simply raised our expectations? Why can’t we, for example, have a new kind of test, aligned to the Common Core and leveraging the latest technology, that requires only 3-4 days of testing rather than 3-4 weeks?
Can’t be done? That’s what they said about the iPhone.
Apple’s innovations were as much a product of Steve Jobs’ commitment to doing the impossible as anything else. As Gregory Ferenstein wrote in a Fast Company...