Bruno: What Teachers *Really* Think About Standardized Tests
Since the release of the Scholastic/Gates survey, I've seen a number of commentators arguing that the results indicate that the vast majority of teachers think that their students' standardized test results aren't important. Here's Anthony Cody, for example, claiming that "only 28% of teachers see standardized tests as an essential or important gauge of student assessment". And here's Alfie Kohn this morning claiming that "[o]nly about ¼ of teachers think standardized tests accurately reflect kids’ achievement".
And those interpretations are pretty reasonable given the decisions the publishers made about which results to emphasize. The trouble is, those decisions seem questionable. If you look at the version of the report released with appendices, you can see what I mean.
When asked "how important [state-required standardized tests are] in measuring students' academic achievement", only 28% of teachers say they are "extremely" or "very" important. That's not very many, but another 50% of respondents said that such tests are "somewhat" important. In other words, fully 78% of teachers think standardized tests are important to some degree in assessing student learning. And that's in spite of the fact that such tests are given infrequently (or not at all for some teachers) and often provide results only months later.
The result that only 26% of teachers agree "strongly" or "somewhat" that state test results "are an accurate reflection of student achievement" is similarly difficult to interpret. Another 41% of teachers, it turns out, "disagree somewhat" with that claim. All told, then, 65% of teachers agreed or disagreed "somewhat", which I think is consistent with lots of teachers believing that standardized test results do accurately reflect student achievement, even if that reflection is in some way incomplete.
And my sense - based entirely on personal experience - is that that's exactly how most teachers feel about standardized tests: that they are but one of many sources of information about student learning. It would be foolhardy to depend on them exclusively or even primarily, but it would also be negligent to dismiss them out of hand. At least, that's how I feel about them. - PB (@MrPABruno)