Teacher poll reveals testing time jeopardizing quality instruction time
Excessive testing is draining vital instruction time away from Colorado students. That’s the finding of an online poll this month of 1,200 teachers in Colorado public schools.
The poll was conducted Feb. 11-13 by the Colorado Education Association of member teachers in elementary, middle and high schools. Major findings of the voluntary survey include:
- Colorado public schools spending three times too much time on standardized tests; 90% of elementary and middle school teachers say these tests get in the way of more interesting units of study which benefit students long-term.
- Teachers spending more than 30% of their instruction time with students preparing and administering tests; a clear majority of teachers believe less than 10% of instruction time should be devoted to testing.
- Teachers spending at least 50 of 180 days during the academic year administering state and district tests, with language arts specialists spending the most time on mandated assessments.
- 60% of teachers reporting standardized tests and statewide/district assessments cannot effectively hold students accountable for learning; 80% of teachers doubt that tests can effectively assess teaching quality.
Teachers taking the survey also observed students treat standardized tests as inconveniences rather than opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge. Many teachers also raised concerns about how the lack of technology resources will interfere with the transition to the new online statewide assessment in 2014-15.
“It’s important to note that teachers are not ‘anti-testing’ – but testing is only one piece of a balanced approach to improve student outcomes,” said CEA President Kerrie Dallman. “We need classroom time to teach critical skills, meaningful tests aligned to the curriculum we’re teaching, and fair, valid evaluations on how we’re performing so we have quality teachers in the classroom.”
According to the Colorado Department of Education, Colorado currently receives more than $300 million per year in federal support to administer statewide assessments. The state’s 178 school districts spend tens of millions more to administer local assessments each year.
Other states are examining the toll testing is taking on quality student instruction. The New York State Board of Regents for P-12 Education and Higher Education this month capped instructional time at 1% that can be used for local assessments to inform teacher evaluations.
CEA supports efforts to limit testing time for students and will work with local schools districts to optimize the amount of time students spend taking standardized tests. Teachers, administrators, students and parents will speak to the testing issue today at a community event at the Denver Press Club at 5:00 p.m. Media are welcome to attend – RSVP with Mike Wetzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-454-5729.