QUICK SUMMARY: It’s time to call your Washington State senators, as HB 1046 will be on the floor and it will CHANGE the way to view standardized testing as a tool in education. It would eliminate the test as a requirement for graduation (starting backdated with the Class of 2014!) and would rely on the community of educators to do the assessment. It would also still retain the testing, but only as a way to track metrics requested by the state. It has gone back and forth through the House thrice! It is now ready for the Senate! Please read the text and call your senators to pass this puppy! Kudos to Representative MacEwan, the SOLE SPONSOR for this bill (remember that come re-election time if you care about education reform).
Find your Washington State Senator’s contact info here: http://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Senators/Pages/default.aspx and your district here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/.
One of the things that happened while road tripping across the country is that my sister missed her flight back home Mother’s Day morning by 3 minutes. Some jam held her up in security and that was that. After thinking through what to do, I contacted my niece’s dad and asked what he thought about flying Julia down as a surprise. He said he was into it, so we bought Ju a ticket and surprised Mary. I videoed it. It was a AMAZING.
Julia wasn’t sure how long she’d be out. She was planning to fly home and be back in school later that week. Well, the time she was coming back kept changing and we eventually landed on trying to drive back by yesterday morning.
Julia hadn’t realized that although the End of Course (EOC) exam was happening on a specific day, it can’t be individually rescheduled like any regular test taken in class. Instead, the students in her district either take it with their class in the spring or take ONE provided make-up test in January. Apparently the dates have to be told to the state early, and can’t be moved. So this means that Julia will have to take the test for her course materials that she studied and is fresh on now IN JANUARY. Not after school today, not before the end of this year, but SEVEN MONTHS in the future. This is problematic as she won’t remember every nuance. That pretty much sums up why standardized testing should NOT be the be-all-end-all. Students cram to take a test but don’t remember everything. What they do remember, and should be tested on, is the practical application of what they learned.
Another hitch is that the students have to be self-directed to make sure they retain or (let’s be honest – relearn) the info. In her district at least, one teacher makes an online study guide, but there isn’t anything formally done. This is NOT GOOD for students that need a nudge and guidance. Julia will likely form a study group because she cares so much that she is forcing herself to do something so unpleasant, but it’s not fair to her or the other students that there aren’t enough resources to do it formally. For a test that gives important metrics to the state but also can literally hold students back – this is a BIG DEAL. I got the impression that the school is doing the best that they can (often the case by overextended educators and administrators), but that unfortunately is not good enough for the students.
I honestly wasn’t very familiar with the EOC concept because they didn’t exist when I graduated high school and one wouldn’t know the ins and outs unless one asks, which we were forced to because of the schedule. Julia was relieved to find out that it didn’t affect her grade for this school year in science, but is still not happy about having to wait until January.
It just so happens that I was checking out the Facebook page for local community action org Not This Time, and they shared a petition to decouple the EOC tests from the graduation requirement list (while leaving them a requirement). Knowing everything I know about how hard it is to reschedule this sucker, and my personal belief that standardized testing is a good tool but not the best way to tell a students’ comprehension on multiple levels and practical education, I completely endorse it. And BONUS: The text also includes language about teaching more inclusively about the people of color who also founded our nation (or more accurately, the nation was founded on the backs of).
I would love to hear thoughts from teachers and students who have/are experiencing it to let me know what you think, too!
Full text of the HB 1046: http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1046&Year=2017