Mont­gomery County schools need to change the way they test

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - Katie Spurlock, Bethesda

Re­gard­ing the June 28 ed­i­to­rial “Save the tests”:

I dis­agree that chang­ing assess­ments at Mont­gomery County Public Schools would hurt stu­dents and schools. First, the need for more reg­u­lar in­struc­tional time is real — and the front-run­ner plan would in­crease such time by four weeks ev­ery year.

Sec­ond, the con­tention that MCPS’s fi­nals and midterms are nec­es­sary to pre­pare stu­dents for col­lege fi­nals is flawed. Where is the col­lege class with a fi­nal writ­ten for 10,000 stu­dents whom the pro­fes­sor has never seen? Var­ied assess­ments are now com­mon in col­lege, too.

In MCPS English classes, midterms and fi­nals do not seem use­ful cu­mu­la­tive ex­pe­ri­ences. If one ex­am­ines the scores by sub­group, it is clear that English-lan­guage learn­ers and stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties re­peat­edly fail these assess­ments for rea­sons that are not mys­te­ri­ous: At grade level, read­ing tasks are of­ten out of reach for stu­dents with read­ing dis­abil­i­ties or stu­dents ac­quir­ing a new lan­guage. Far from be­ing pro­duc­tive, these midterms and fi­nals may dis­cour­age stu­dents, un­der­min­ing hard-won progress made by their teach­ers.

The ed­i­to­rial board and the public likely have no idea how midterms and fi­nals are ex­pe­ri­enced by sub­groups of stu­dents. As re­ported in the Gazette, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Mont­gomery) and eight other leg­is­la­tors have called for public ac­cess to as­sess­ment data to pro­mote bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the cur­ricu­lum and widen­ing achieve­ment gaps. The Post should show more in­ter­est in sub­group per­for­mance data and the qual­ity of the fi­nals and midterms it has cham­pi­oned.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.