School parents showed strong support for the concept of standardized testing in Education Post’s recent poll. And I’m one of those supporters, although I do have concerns about the quality of standardized tests. And a lot of that concern comes from the word “standardized.” Although I understand, when I think about it, that it simply means the tests are administered according to set standards, my intuitive reaction is “robotic.”
The move from the old scantron bubble sheets to more interactive, deeper-thinking tests helps change that. And this commentary in the Dayton Daily News from Ohio fourth-grade teacher Brian Shimko helps even more.
He gives an insider’s view of “the backstory of how (the new PARCC) assessments are developed.” And we see classroom teachers from over a dozen states working together to bring their classroom perspective to the table to develop questions and scoring frameworks that are true measures of how students are progressing. As Shimko describes:
Because I knew Ohio had adopted PARCC assessments as a means of measuring student progress starting in 2014‐15, I jumped at the chance. The opportunity would allow me to collaborate with educators from states within the PARCC Consortium to establish precedents for future test items.
PARCC assessments, which are aligned with Common Core standards, are designed to provide parents, students and educators with actionable and timely feedback about individual student progress. These tests are developed with input from educators like myself to measure students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and to assess their ability to communicate clearly. They also help determine whether students are on track to be successful in college and careers.
The process wasn’t easy, according to Shimko, which isn’t surprising, given the varying classroom perspectives that were part of the conversation. But he describes the overall experience as “rewarding,” and it increases my confidence as a parent that the new standardized tests are being designed to reflect good instruction and measure the individual progress of our students.