Policy

ASCD Calls for 2-Year State Assessment Accountability Moratorium

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) has issued a statement calling on policymakers to place a moratorium on using standardized assessments for accountability purposes.

The statement says that states should continue to standardized assessments during the moratorium and communicate the results and their meaning to schools districts and families, but without the threat of sanctions "that have distorted their importance," calling instead for tests to become one tool of many used to determine student preparation.

"Standardized test results have been the defining measure of student achievement and school quality under the No Child Left Behind Act," according to the statement. "This singular focus has resulted in several unintended and undesirable consequences, including over testing, a narrowing of the curriculum, and a de-emphasis of untested subjects and concepts — the arts, civics, and social and emotional skills, among many others — that are just as important to a student's development and long-term success."

The moratorium is intended to allow policymakers, educators and communities to:

  • Develop more robust accountability systems with multiple measures and that are capable of producing actionable data;
  • Reevaluate whether yearly testing is necessary;
  • Refine systems for professional development and evaluation of educators; and
  • Build technological infrastructure and capacity.

Student readiness, school quality and teacher performance have far reaching implications and are too important to be determined by a single assessment, according to the statement. Doing so has thrown the education system "out of balance," requiring a reset to make sure state assessments are "not the main driver of student learning and school improvement."

The statement also says that the potential of the Common Core State Standards to support a "whole child approach to education" is threatened by the continued emphasis on high-stakes testing.

"We need a pause to replace the current system with a new vision," the statement concludes. "Policymakers and the public must immediately engage in an open and transparent community decision-making process about the best ways to use test scores and to develop accountability systems that fully support a broader, more accurate definition of college, career and citizenship readiness that ensures equity and access for all students."

The organization is requesting that educators join them in a discussion of these issues via the ASCD Forum. Educators can do so by joining the forum group, using #ASCDForum on Twitter or by attending a face-to-face session at the organization's 2015 conference.

"Standardized test results have become the overriding measure of student achievement and school quality, and it's time to rethink our accountability model," said David Griffith, ASCD director of public policy, in a prepared statement. "This does not mean we should do away with testing, but we must recognize there is an imbalance. A two-year break from the high stakes attached to the tests will allow states to administer the assessments and share the results with districts, schools, and families, while providing schools with adequate time to thoughtfully consider and address student performance."

To read the full statement, visit ascd.org.

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