Parents are back in backing state testing

Parents are back in backing state testing

By Dale Chu

As the father of a rising second grader, I’ve got another year before my daughter begins annual state testing as required under federal law. Like many parents, I’m looking forward to the data these exams will provide—above all as a check upon the local assessments she’s been taking since she entered grade school. This information will be particularly important for families in understanding how well their schools are doing in getting students back on track following the disruptions prompted by Covid.

Encouragingly, public support for annual testing remains high, though it understandably dropped at the onset of the pandemic. The good news is that parental support for state testing has rebounded significantly, and it’s no wonder: parents are eager to return to a pre-pandemic “normal.” While we know that normal wasn’t nearly good enough for most kids, especially those living in our nation’s most marginalized communities, the forced conscription of parents and guardians into the impromptu role of teacher was an eye-opening experience—including for yours truly—and left much to be desired. Indeed, the stark difference in performance between students who were primarily remote versus in-person is already bearing this out.

The open question is the extent to which states will remain committed to annual assessments, federal law notwithstanding. By most accounts, they returned to a “typical” round of testing last spring, which is an essential step towards a true return to normal. But states can’t and shouldn’t stop there: these test results need to come in faster so that parents can have information that is timely and relevant. (Stay tuned: in an upcoming episode of the Route K-12 podcast, I’ll don my hat as a parent in posing the question of how states should be thinking or rethinking their method of communicating school and student performance.) To be sure, it’s an ongoing challenge, but a degree in psychometrics shouldn’t be a prerequisite to understanding how our children are faring.

Speaking of psychometrics, I recently spoke with a parent who happens to be a measurement expert, and she had this exact same lamentation! If she couldn’t make heads from tails on the testing reports she receives for her child, what chances do the rest of us have? While policymakers and school administrators should feel comfortable that they have the full support of parents when it comes to annual testing, they would do well not to take this support for granted. Keeping parents engaged and in the loop vis-à-vis their children’s academic progress will be a priority assignment in the upcoming school year as well as in the years to come.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.