Letter to the Editor: Mandated school tests 'opportunity for self-evaluation'

Kent Weeklies

I certainly sympathize with Woodridge Superintendent Walter Davis when he complains that federal and state mandated assessments of students are “neither useful nor diagnostic”  in April 2021's The Bugle. And especially during the current pandemic, the job of complying with the administration of these tests is daunting. 

However, using this situation as a springboard to criticize such tests is gratuitous and self-serving.  Where is the evidence that “Good teaching, tied to our local curriculum...provides the best data for our staff as they adapt instruction to meet the needs of our students.”  If “taking away two to three weeks of valuable instructional time... is a disruption and a distraction to good teaching,“ do those tests really take that long to administer?  Or is the majority of that time taken with teaching to the tests?  Is Mr. Davis claiming that there are discrepancies between the local curriculum and what the state and federal government educational agencies expect students to be learning?  If there are discrepancies, that speaks to the diagnostic review of the curriculum.

As for the usefulness of the data, clearly those data do not help the students who took the tests.  But those data should point to improvements that can and should be made in the curriculum for the benefit of current and future students.

Mr. Davis’ criticisms seek to garner support of citizens who believe the federal and state governments have no business interfering with local public schools.  Here, in microcosm, is another example of the divisive spirit growing in our country.  Instead, we should be taking these tests as an opportunity for self-evaluation of our local efforts, not a chance to divide us even further

Robert Ballinger, Cuyahoga Falls