Teacher's Union Releases Survey on Testing
By Tiffany Danitz, Staff Writer
More than half the states have clearly defined standards of learning for English, math, science and social studies. But no state has properly linked those standards to their state-wide test or to what is taught in their classroom, according to a report: Making Standards Matter 2001 by a national education union.
"This year's report shows that states have made tremendous progress in setting standards. But they need to develop standards-based curriculum and make sure that tests are aligned to the standards," said the American Federation of Teachers President Sandra Feldman.
The sixth annual report was released today (11/1).The survey comes as Congress is in the final stages of negotiations on President Bush's education plan which includes testing students in grades 3-8 annually. Who will pay for additional testing remains an open question.
Feldman would like to see quality control of testing, but she is concerned about over-testing students. "If Congress requires the tests, it should also require that they be of high quality and it should pay for that quality."
The report also found:
- Twenty-eight states test in core subjects at least once during elementary, middle and high school. Only eight states, however, can document that their tests are aligned to the state standards.
- Just 24 states require and pay for schools to provide academic help to struggling students. In 1999 there were 27 states, marking the first drop-off in six years.
- No state has created curriculum to teach the standards in the core subjects. But nine states are halfway towards a "fully developed curriculum," according to the report. These states are: Alabama, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia.
"The standards tell you where you want to go, the curriculum is the road map to get there, and the tests tell you how far you've come," Feldman said.