In Ohio, the state superintendent has proposed that the state stop administering standardized tests in subjects like art, music, and gym. Districts originally created tests in these subjects so that they would be able to evaluate teachers in these fields based on test scores. The proposed change must be approved by the state legislature.
Mike Petrilli has written about how concerns about overtesting have been driven by the federal government’s insistence that states evaluate all teachers in ways that include student achievement data.
The problem is that most teachers—two-thirds in Ohio’s case—don’t have “value added” data because they don’t teach subjects and/or grades with valid state assessments. So rather than just use other measures to evaluate those teachers—like observations—states encouraged the creation of “student learning objectives” to fill the gap. In the Ohio report’s words:
Student learning objectives are measurable, long-term academic growth targets that a teacher sets at the beginning of the year for all students. The teacher or school creates and administers student learning objective tests to measure each student’s progress on each growth target. Generally, these tests are given twice a year; once at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the year.
It’s not hard to understand, then, how this recent development has increased the testing burden dramatically.
— Education Next