Monday, December 24, 2012

Testing, testing, testing......

How do we balance the need for accountability in our public schools -- in the form of standardized tests and strict graduation requirements -- with the cost that these things place on students, teachers, and school districts?  That is a question educators and legislators grapple with every session.

Washington state needs “exit” exams to ensure that every student who receives a diploma — no matter where he or she went to school — has the knowledge and skills expected of high school graduates. Students in the Class of 2012 were required to pass two exit exams. By the time this year’s 10th graders graduate, it will be five.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn recently said that he thinks that's overkill.  Rep. John McCoy, a member of the House Education Committee, agrees.  He has already introduced legislation for the 2013 session to reduce the number of student assessments -- and, thus, reduce the cost to schools. 

How much cost?  Exit exams are estimated to be $30 each. If students don’t pass one or more of these exams, the state provides other ways for students to demonstrate their abilities, such as the Collection of Evidence (COE). The COE is a portfolio of classroom work prepared by the student with instructional support from a teacher. The COE is currently $400 per student in each content area.

Here's more information on our state's testing system.