Monday, January 13, 2014

36 tests (the North Carolina way)

I'll cut to the chase---North Carolina General Assembly has passed a bill known as Read to Achieve.  This bill mandates retention for those students who don't demonstrate reading proficiency in 3rd grade.  (This type of mandate is not new.) I'm not against proficiency standards, just to be clear.  I'm just not sure that lawmakers really know how to improve instruction. 

Here is the flow chart of what is to happen with the kids who don't pass the 'Beginning of Year' test.

If you notice the left rectangle above the last diamond, the chart refers to a Student Reading Portfolio.  This portfolio is actually 36 mini-tests the child must take starting soon.  Actually, the child has to pass three tests per reading standard, and there are twelve standards.  Up to six tests per section are allowed, meaning potentially the child could tak 72 mini-tests to demonstrate reading proficiency.  This of course is in addition to the plethora of other assessments---mClass, AimsWeb, benchmarks testing, writing assessments, performance-based assessments, and I'm sure I've missed some.  What do you think about this?  Is the same thing going on in your state?

  • I worry about lost instructional time due to excessive testing. 
  • I worry about kids becoming desensitized to assessments. How can you 'do your best' on an assessment when assessments are every day?
  • I worry about teacher stress.  Who would want to teach 3rd grade?
  • I worry about administrator stress.  How do you make this work and keep the school a happy place?
  • I worry about the parents of marginal students.  
  • I worry about student stress if they think they won't pass.
  • I worry about the lost joy of reading.

An education activist blogger, Diane Ravitch, had this to say (link).  (NC has been making the news quite a bit lately.)  Ms. Ravitch can be a little extreme about some things, but here, she's right on!

What are your thoughts?   My students are often these struggling students and 36 tests really won't help them.

 Our Governor, back in June, had spoken out about too many tests.  I guess he forgot.



  1. I worry about our students' mental health... this is all wrong!

  2. I work in a school with many bilingual students. The testing requirements for these kids is beyond ridiculous. Time lost for testing is usually taken from art, gym, music or speech therapy although reading and mathematics instruction are not sacred either. The loss of instructional time is amazing.