In the Teachers Eyes

Brad+Davis%2C+state+testing+coordinator+for+OHS.

Brad Davis, state testing coordinator for OHS.

Jillian Johnson, Journalist

It swings around almost every year and with it comes an uproar of voices from the student body on how they feel about it. Standardized testing has been implemented mandatorily into our school systems since the 1990s and has raised a lot of controversy over its importance in the past years. Students all around have a wide range of differing opinions on the testing, but what about the educators? The kids may be the ones taking it but how do the teachers who have to dictate lesson plans and prepare the students for them feel about these?

Brad Davis, state testing coordinator for OHS, has some mixed opinions about the testing. “If used correctly, standardized testing has the potential to make our educational system better by analyzing the data to look for areas of weakness.” Davis goes on to explain that while his current thoughts aren’t against the tests, the way the educational system has handled these tests so far is a big part of what shifted his views over the past 35 years working as a teacher. “If the testing only provides a summative score without analyzing the results and making changes based on those findings, the standardized test loses much of its power and potential.” Davis also points out that a big downside to it all is that they take away funding for other subjects that the tests do not focus on and leaves room to forget where students are also talented. “Just because they are not included on a standardized test doesn’t mean that they are not as important as those that are.”

“It’s a right of passage for school, something that people view as a mark of how much progress is being made across the system,” were Matt Grant’s, principal at OHS, first thoughts about the testing. He explains they have definitely gotten better over the years with a lot of schools trying to do too much and leading to students trying to opt out of testing as opposed to now where there isn’t as much pressure and there are more pathways for kids to truly show what they know. “I think there is a necessary part that standardized tests can do, but I think we’ve overdone it sometimes.” While his opinions remain fairly neutral towards them, Grant doesn’t believe it’s a great idea to do standardized testing this year. “Standardized tests, to me, are mainly to show a school how they can improve and right now we’re just trying to survive.” He also expresses how students aren’t ‘one size fits all’ and differing graduation pathways are very important in being able to showcase the talents of students who don’t do very well on the tests while still rightfully praising the ones that do, making the playing field level.

Like most others, Timothy Snodgrass, english teacher at OHS, did not know what exactly to think about having to teach for standardized tests, but his mind was quickly made up when he learned that students could easily fabricate information in their english answers and dove more into the actual research behind it. “The standardized testing craze, beginning with Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’, and reinforced with Obama’s ‘Race To The Top’ program were short-sighted, politically expedient moves that have had detrimental effects on public education.” Snodgrass also includes that his “final straw” was when he learned that the school districts were being forced not on the grounds of actual learning, but rather to pump out this high stakes test that easily failed schools, teachers, and students alike. “While test manufacturers and test assessment companies were making money hand over fist, school districts with the neediest students were punished financially for not hitting arbitrary marks with their results.” As a last thought, Snodgrass is interested to see what will happen with Washington’s stance on doing the SBA this year considering the pandemic and other factors. 

While hearing from students whether these standardized tests should remain mandatory or need to be changed is important, most tend to overlook what the educators surrounding them have to say on it. Their views are met with rough scrutiny from other teachers and parents, wondering how they can think positively or negatively towards the tests when the others think the opposite. They also have to watch their kids struggle with anxiety on how to understand the questions or be uncomfortable with how the tests are made and the testing conditions that have to be in place for them. Not all of them have a hard time or negative opinion on standardized testing, some even are 100% here for it, but the ones that demand change in the system on account to what they have witnessed first hand are the voices that need to be heard.