K-12 DIGEST: Did Florida Just Usher in the End of American Standardized Testing?

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has asked the state’s legislative body to do away with end-of-year standardized assessments in schools. The premise: testing students at the end of the school year all but eliminates opportunities for students to improve their skills and boost their learning, and takes too much time away from instruction opportunities. 

He wants to replace the practice with a series of exams designed to monitor students’ progress throughout the year. 

He might have a point, given the nation’s struggles with K-12 students’ performance on standardized tests. 

DeSantis takes aim at Common Core in executive order

A couple of quick hits on standardized testing nationwide:

Only half of all California students performed at grade level in reading on the state’s most recent standardized language arts test, and just 34 percent of California fourth-graders scored proficient in math on the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), placing the state 44th nationwide. Minority students in big cities perform particularly poorly. In Los Angeles, for example, just 9 percent of blacks scored proficient in eighth-grade math, compared with 12 percent of Hispanics and 51 percent of whites on the recent NAEP. A recently released “States with the Best Public Schools since the Pandemic” tracker ranks California 44th nationally. – City Journal

Only 45.4% of K-12 students passed the exams for the 2020-21 school year, according to results released at a State Board of Education meeting Wednesday. Two years ago — the last time testing was required — nearly 59% of K-12 students passed state exams. The U.S. Education Department did not require states to test students in the 2019-20 school year but required it this past year to assess pandemic learning loss. – U.S. News and World Report

The share of Texas students who passed the primary math test, Algebra I fell from 88 percent to 74 percent. More concerning, the share of students who scored on grade level dropped from 66 percent to 42 percent. Texas students can pass the exam, but fall short of performing at grade level. Scores on the two reading tests, English I and English II, held more steady. Passage rates on the English I exam slipped slightly, from 74 percent to 71 percent, as did rates of scoring on grade level (from 60 percent to 55 percent). Scores on English II, which fewer high schoolers take, essentially were unchanged. – Houston Chronicle

Data released Tuesday by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show that across the state, 45% of students scored at advanced or proficient levels on the tests in English language arts. About 37% were advanced or proficient at science, and just 35% were advanced or proficient in math. – Joplin Globe

Standardized testing, save for the wealthiest of school districts and their households, doesn’t showcase the true measure of learning aptitude; so much so that these K-12 results show as very much on-brand with the abandonment of SAT and ACT requirements by colleges and universities in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Assessment still can’t account for disparities in learning resources, particularly among Black and Brown students. The federal Department of Education can’t regulate fairness in preparation and promotion, and the states with the worst educational outcomes have no incentive to do so; making a population smarter by jumpstarting primary and secondary education only increases the chances of out-of-state college enrollment and overall population loss

If this is the end of standardized testing as we know it, then parents and teachers should be intensely focused on what the rebooted version of aptitude measurement looks like. Regular testing puts a higher burden on classroom instruction, and more of an expectation on parent/guardian engagement in education. 

A new future is here, but it’s not clear what it looks like beyond the welcomed dispatch of end-of-year testing anxieties. 


Headlines

A Texas school district doesn’t require masks. The state is suing the district anyway. [Texas Tribune]

Educational attainment at center of a report on New York Broadband Internet access [WIVB]

Dilapidated buildings increase the risk of covid transmission [Truthout]

Will micro-schools dominate post-pandemic education? [Popular Science]


Read & React

“A person who has dropped out from an excellent high school could very well have more marketable skills than a person who graduated from a low-performing high school and went on to two years of college before dropping out. While a person who has earned an associate degree will generally possess more marketable skills than a high-school dropout, there is no guarantee, as it depends on what each of them studied and how they performed in their post-secondary pursuits.”

Walter Myers III on the ties between educational attainment and workforce development with the argument that race should not be a primary factor.

React – There are way too many examples and way too much research demonstrating the ties between race, educational attainment, and poverty to suggest that it is a simple matter of drive and access. The caliber of instruction, the passion invoked within that instruction, and the exposure to opportunities means more than actual theoretical or even practical knowledge building; and those resources come with money and policy that sustains money for these ideas.