The 5 ways ESSA changes standardized testing
ESSA changes many things in education. Standardized testing is one of them.
One of the major tentpoles of the new education legislation, ESSA, is the reduced significance of standardized testing.This has many teachers, administrators and maybe even some students, singing the new law’s praises and dancing in the streets.
- Districts can now use a nationally recognized test like the ACT or SAT instead of the state test in high schools, which could have huge implications for classroom practice. This is under state government, not federal government, control
- States are allowed to cap the amount of time that students spend taking tests. This could (and should) reduce the testing time and the time teachers spend administering them
- Gives states funding in order to audit and streamline assessment systems, eliminating unnecessary and duplicative assessments
- Establishes a pilot program in up to seven states that allows for the complete reworking and rethinking of their assessment system. This means that it's possible that comprehensive state tests as we know them will be eliminated, replaced by competency-based assessments, performance-based assessments, interim assessments, or something else entirely (!!!)
- Allows for the use of computer-adaptive testing in state and local assessments (something that No Child Left Behind did not allow), a process that could allow for much more accurate data on student performance
What jumps out at you?
Point number 4 is of particular interest. Sure it’s a long play strategy and nothing will change in the next few years but the possibility exists that the way we assess generations of future students could look completely different in 10-15 years is exciting.
We also find the first point interesting and encouraging as well. So many criticisms of NCLB was the fact that many teachers only taught to the state assessment test which, everyone can agree, was a disservice to students everywhere.
Freeing teachers from the bonds of teaching to state assessment tests will allow them grow and develop as educators. They will be able to bring in new curriculum into their classrooms and get more creative with the way they teach their students.
The students will benefit as well, instead of learning to just study enough to pass a test they will be able to develop learning methods and skills that will serve them as they progress through their education journey and on into the world outside the classroom.
Find out more about the new education law