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Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008 | I would like to thank Michele Janette for speaking out about the excessive testing within San Diego Unified School District. I would like to add that these tests are mandatory, contrary to what was stated by the head of the literacy department. The parents’ handbook states that these are “district mandated tests.”
Science benchmarks were added this year and social studies benchmark tests are to be added next year. This will bring 20 extra assessments. Many of the literacy benchmarks are poorly written and have numerous mistakes. In addition, classroom teachers still test students with assessments that we feel are necessary to track a student’s progress.
Reporter Emily Alpert did a follow-up story regarding how much time these tests were taking. I think that it would have been interesting to ask actual classroom teachers how long the assessments were taking. Many of the literacy tests took as long as two hours. The science benchmark was well over an hour for the 5th grade students.
Assessments are necessary but classroom teachers should determine what assessments to use, not administrators who have not necessarily taught in a classroom. The district spent money on the California Summative Tests that are standards based. These assessments were given three times a year and are well written and informative to instruction. Why are we spending so much time and money on testing?
The current testing demand is harmful to instruction and is harmful to students. I have had students cry in class and complain about the excessive amount of testing. These district summative tests are taking greater than forty hours away from instruction and learning. In addition, many hours are spent teaching to the tests. Classroom teachers are afraid to speak up but I have not found one who feels these assessments are valid and useful in the classroom.