Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports here on the push to reform the state’s testing system for public school kids. Legislative leaders and the governor want to reduce the number of tests administered to kids. OK, fine. But what about the quality of the tests? JLF’s Terry Stoops weighs in on this aspect of the issue.
“The question is not, ‘Do public school students spend too much time taking tests?’ Rather, we should be asking, ‘Do tests administered by public schools accurately measure the performance of students and teachers?’” said Terry Stoops, director of research and education studies at the John Locke Foundation.
“If Republican leaders are serious about reforming the state’s accountability system, they should require the N.C. State Board of Education to adopt an independent, field-tested, and credible national test of student performance,” Stoops said.
“Poor quality, state-developed tests are the major reason why teachers object to including them in their performance evaluation,” Stoops said. “Given the state’s record of developing and administering shoddy tests, teachers have a valid point.”
Meantime, in a separate but related education matter, authors of a new book called “The ADHD Explosion” say there is a relationship between the growing number of ADHD diagnoses and state rules that mandate testing to evaluate kids with tests. This recent Wall Street Journal column explores the book’s contention. The book is written by two Berkeley academics.
The authors suggest that when schools are under pressure to produce high test scores, they become motivated, consciously or unconsciously, to encourage ADHD diagnoses—either because the drugs allow low-performing children to score better or because ADHD diagnoses can be used to exclude children from testing. They didn’t see comparable increases in places where the law kept school personnel from recommending ADHD medication to parents.