This year’s MCAS results are in, and Andover did not fare well, even though it is consistently among the highest-performing school districts in the state. This is just one of the unintended — and often damaging — consequences of using standardized testing as the Holy Grail measurement of student success.
We at the National Institute for Student-Centered Education were pleased to read that Margaret McKenna, the new chairwoman of the state’s Board of Education, actively questions the efficacy of standardized testing practices in our state’s school districts. Far too often when schools are teaching-to-the-test, rather than teaching-to-the-student, no one wins — not the districts whose ratings drop, nor the educators whose skills are questioned and, most notably, not the children whose long-term success is jeopardized.
All educators and parents know that each child learns differently. Of course, core academic knowledge and skill mastery are crucial platforms for productive adult life, but critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communications skills, collaboration and teamwork are also keys to success. If curricula are well thought out, and if ongoing formative assessments of students’ work, student-teacher interaction, feedback, reinforcement and student self-assessment trump standardized testing models like Common Core or MCAS, students will learn and thrive.
Theodore H. Wilson III
National Institute for Student-Centered Education