Teachers are polarized on the question of whether the different tests that San Diego Unified uses to track student progress and diagnose their problems are worth the time they take, according to a survey done by the school district in early February.

Testing has been a hot topic this year. The number and frequency of tests required by the school district on top of the No Child Left Behind tests mandated by the state came under fire from teachers and their union earlier this year and prompted a call from school board member John Lee Evans to study the issue, citing dissatisfaction among teachers as the cause.

The data gathered by the school district paint a complex picture of teacher opinions, revealing marked disagreements among the hundreds of teachers from kindergarten to 8th grade who answered surveys about the value of the tests. And their answers varied significantly depending on which test they were evaluating.

Literacy tests developed by the school district, for instance, were considered worthwhile by nearly 43 percent of teachers surveyed and not worthwhile by roughly 46 percent of teachers surveyed. (The rest said they “neither agree nor disagree” that the information the tests give them was worth the time.)

The test that was deemed worthwhile by the most teachers was a writing assessment: 65 percent of surveyed teachers gave it the thumbs up and 21.5 percent panned it. The test that was least appreciated was a kindergarten math test that was considered worthwhile by less than 24 percent of teachers, not worth the time by nearly 58 percent of teachers, and left the remaining 19 percent indifferent.

The surveys also asked teachers about how long the tests typically took and what they used the results for — to create report cards, to group students for instruction, or other purposes. Staffers also surveyed principals, who were far more positive about whether the tests were worth the time they took.

Science tests developed by the school district, for instance, were deemed worthwhile by nearly 77 percent of principals surveyed. Only 38.5 percent of teachers surveyed agreed.

You can check out the surveys — complete with nifty tables that make all the numbers more palatable — by clicking here.


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