Tag Archives: testing

National Standards Survey Final Results

Do you think the United States should have national standards for K–12 education?

• Yes, we need consistency.
• Yes, it would improve the standards in my state.
• No, setting the standards should be done at the state level.
• No, it would lessen the standards in my state.
• Other (please specify).

This month, along with some blog posts on standards, we asked you to consider your stance on the subject and vote in our survey. In conjunction with this, we switched to a one-question survey that provided four set answers as well as the choice to fill in an answer of your own.

By this morning, 186 people had answered the survey, so the number has more than doubled since the interim report on June 18, when there were 92 respondents. Today, I’m providing final results, but keep in mind that this is not a scientific survey.

Comparisons with Interim Report

On June 18, I reported that more than half of respondents favor national standards, either for consistency or because they feel it would be an improvement over their state standards. On June 30, the number who favor national standards approaches three-quarters.

On June 18, I reported that more people who do not want national standards chose that option because they thought that it is a task that belongs to the local level rather than because it would lower their own state’s standards. On June 30, the preference is even more pronounced, at a little less than 6 to 1.

On June 18, there were 12 responses that were ‘Other.’ On June 30, with more than twice as many respondents, the number has only increased to 16.

Final Stats

• The overall vote was 129 for ‘Yes’ and 41 for ‘No,’ with 16 entering an answer in ‘Other.’ In percentages, that’s 69.3% for ‘Yes,’ 22.1% for ‘No,’ and 8.6% for ‘Other.’

• The response with the absolute greatest number of responses was ‘Yes, we need consistency,’ which garnered 59.1% of all responses.

• The second-place response was ‘No, setting the standards should be done at the state level, with 18.3%.

• While 10.2% of respondents thought that national standards would improve the standards in their state, 3.8% felt that national standards would lessen standards in their state.

• 77.4% of respondents based their answer on the principle of where the standards should be set, while 14% based their answer on the practical results.

Some of the comments in ‘Other’ are difficult to add in. My best assessment is that there are 7 Yes’s—most of them conditional—and 4 No’s. If this is correct, it brings the overall tally to 136 ‘Yes’ and 45 ‘No.’

• The ‘Other’ responses specified some ways in which respondents think the national standards and local standards should interact, but there is not agreement on what that relationship will be (some responses have been lightly edited for spelling and grammar so as not to detract from content):

—”[W]e need national standards that … each state may choose to build up from but not down.

—”National Standards [should be treated as] a core so as not to negatively affect the standards in some states with more rigorous standards but … these core standards [should be] incorporated in every state’s curriculum.”

—”Yes, and [the national standards] should be higher than that of the state with the highest standards. America needs to catch up with the rest of the world.”

• ‘Other’ respondents also had some comments on testing. For example, one respondent said that if national standards would necessitate more testing, s/he would vote ‘No.’

• One ‘Other’ comment suggests that the business of education is better left to free enterprise than to the government at any level.

• One ‘Other’ response suggests that education decisions be made by educators, and specifically suggests that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is not qualified [n.b., Duncan worked in a tutoring program for inner city children (run by his mother) in Chicago and has administered education programs, helped start a school, and been CEO of the Chicago Public Schools; his college major was sociology, and he does not seem to have an education degree, or to have spent time as a classroom teacher, but his career has been focused on education.]

• One ‘Other’ response says that if there are going to be federal standards, there should be federal funding to go with.

• One ‘Other’ respondent points out—correctly, I might add—that constitutionally, the power to make decisions about education belongs to the states. From Cornell University Law School “Education Law: An Overview“:

“Each state is required by its state constitution to provide a school system whereby children may receive an education. State legislatures exercise power over schools in any manner consistent with the state’s constitution.” One special exception is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law covering special education.

These points raise some interesting questions . . . What do you think, now that the survey results are all in? Please comment!



Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…

If you have a child in a K–12 classroom or are a teacher in a K–12 classroom, it’s testing season. If you have a child in college or teach college, it’s final exam season. It’s actually been testing season for quite awhile. The NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) exams were given from January 25 through March 12. Since then, schools have been giving state-mandated assessments, such as the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). or the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program. Advanced Placement® exams (AP exams) run May 3–7 and 10–14, with late testing dates being May 19–21.And for some students there are high school exit exams, college entrance exams, physical fitness exams, etc.

Testing can serve a variety of purposes:

Learning—Although testing is usually thought of as a recap of what has been previously learned, it can actually be a learning experience itself. A well-conceived question can lead a student to recast what has been learned in a new light, perhaps by achieving a synthesis that could only come after everything else was done.

• Diagnosis—Reading clinicians and speech language pathologists, among others, use various testing tools to help understand students abilities and disabilities in order to make an appropriate plan

• Demonstrating Competency—When the reading clinician or speech language pathologist or other instructor has been successful in work with a student, a test can demonstrate that the goals have been achieved. In addition, sometimes you have to be proficient in A to go on to B, of necessity or because there’s a rule that says you must or because it’s necessary for your own or others’ safety that you have that skill down pat or for some other reason.

• Feedback and Placement—For the student moving to a new school environment or an adult returning to school, a singer joining an school ensemble and a child joining a sports team, a test can help to make decisions between French I and French 2, Algebra and Geometry, Tenor and Baritone, Pitcher and Outfielder.

• Gateway—There are gates in, like college entrance exams, and gates out, like high school exit exams.

• Assessment—Some tests are a certain percentage of a grade for a class, with weight only in that class.

• Accountability—Tests can be used to judge students’ learning and hold teachers, schools, and districts accountable.

With as many uses and styles as it has, testing is an area of some contention. For a greater understanding of some of the questions that have been raised about testing, read our article “Testing Issues.”