The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) welcomes the increased attention being paid to the role of state tests in public education that has been caused by President Obama’s statement that children should spend no more that 2 percent of a school year taking state tests. It is CAPSS’ hope that this increased attention will result in an opportunity to consider the radical overhaul of state testing for which CAPSS has advocated for four years.
Right now, the results of state tests are used too often to determine whether school districts, schools, educators and children are successful. This is not only a misuse of state test results but also a perpetuation of the myth that every child learns at basically the same pace. The present expectation for state test results, for example, stipulates that every child in the fifth grade will have mastered particular knowledge and skills when we have known for decades that different people learn at different rates of speed when learning different things at different times in their lives.
CAPSS, therefore, continues to advocate for a transformation in the use of state test results that would make them the validators of already collected evidence of success instead of the determiners of that success. In this transformed arrangement, children would take the state tests when teachers conclude that the children can validate on the state tests what they have already demonstrated in the course of regular classroom instruction and assessment that they have learned. Under this arrangement, there would be no pressure for teachers to rush learning experiences before children are ready for them and teachers would have the flexibility to allow children to learn at a pace appropriate for them and to provide for children instruction that aligns well with the their primary learning styles.
CAPSS realizes that the transformation for which it is advocating cannot take place immediately. The organization, therefore, is willing to work with others to develop a plan that will in a short time result in the use of state test results in a manner that will enhance the efforts of educators to make sure that every child learns what they need to know and be able to do to be successful after they leave public education.
Joseph J. Cirasuolo, Ed.D, is the executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.