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The Scoop - Standardized tests getting poor marks

The school calendar lists the last day of school in Warren County as two weeks away on the glorious day of May 25.

That may be the last official day, but for most purposes, the academic portion of the 2017-18 school year is in the books. Meaningful instruction is a thing of the past.

We have standardized testing to thank. In what's a poorly kept secret, it's become accepted practice for our schools to stop teaching as soon as testing is done. If we're going to teach to the test, then there's nothing left to teach once the test has been given.

Compounding problems is the Tennessee Department of Education can't seem to learn from its mistakes. The state expects students to learn, but state leaders are determined to keep making the same blunders when it comes to standardized tests. Pay no attention to the fact it's failed three years straight.

I was surprised by voting in a Southern Standard online survey given last month. A full 63 percent of respondents said the state should end  standardized testing completely.

I'm not arguing against that stance, however I'm sorry to report it's not possible due to requirements from the U.S. Department of Education. I think standardized tests do serve a purpose in measuring achievement, but we need to take a giant chill pill and not put so much emphasis on these results.

When I was in school, I remember we took our standardized test, had field day when testing was over, then school was out. There wasn't nearly a month between the test and the end of the year.

The idea of counting a portion of the standardized tests toward a student's final grade is a poorly constructed concept. Counting a portion of the standardized tests toward teacher evaluations is even worse. And the notion we can judge our schools based on standardized test results is clearly created by legislators who have never stepped foot in a classroom.

I talked to Director of Schools Bobby Cox about standardized testing on Thursday and he told me he wants local schools to be accountable, but he admits there's much room for testing improvement. Bobby said he'd like for the tests to be taken later in the school year and he agrees with the push to scale back testing, espcially the number of days which are devoted to the tests.

Bobby pointed to the ACT as a long-standing standardized test that has a reputation for delivering accurate results in a timely fashion. The ACT has been used as a gauge of student progress for decades and Bobby believes the state should ask ACT officials about ways to improve standardized tests for K-12 schools.

The underlying problem when it comes to education decisions is they mostly come from the state and federal lawmakers who are professional lawyers or doctors, not professional educators.

I don't need a test to tell me that doesn't work in the best interest of our students.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.