We would all like to believe that education ideas are not shortsighted. Unfortunately, we often see too many plans in schools that just don’t make any sense when aligned with other plans already in place.
Case in point. Last week, New Jersey announced its 2022-2023 assessment schedule for students. It again includes the Start Strong test introduced last Fall. The selling point for the test last year was that students were returning to school after a Pandemic, and with a lack of testing in the Spring of 2021, we needed to have a baseline for where students were coming back to school.
So, we had students take the test in October 2021. I can tell you that the two days used in the Fall did not inspire a meaningful change to instruction. Teachers already knew exactly what the results indicated.
Most of us went through with this initiative believing it was a one time thing, until this week’s surprise announcement. We now add more Fall testing to an already increased testing schedule in the Spring.
The kicker. The tests need to be completed by September 30th. We’ve heard directly from our department of education about the importance of SEL, about building relationships, about meeting students where they are. Our students open the school year on September 6th, so this means that in the first nineteen days of the year, students will need to complete two days of testing.
Any teacher knows that those first few weeks are critical in establishing relationships with students, building classroom routines and a learning community. And now, we will be wasting time with unnecessary testing.
And for what? We just completed 6-8 days of tests with students in May. What are we going to learn about student academic progress in September that the tests in May didn’t already tell us?
It’s incredibly shortsighted.
It’s diametrically opposed to what we should be doing in education.
And every educator and parent should be fighting against it.