Policy & Research

Parents, Teachers, Students Split on Overtesting

trends in testing and assessment 

Parents, students and teachers have radically different views on the value of time spent on tests. According to a new poll conducted by Gallup on behalf of the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), while 83 percent of teachers surveyed said they think students spend too much time on tests, 75 percent of students and 52 percent of parents said they think students spend the right amount of time or not enough time on them.

According to the report, Make Assessment Work for All Students: Multiple Measures Matter, which polled some 4,200 education professionals, parents and students, all three groups “find value in a variety of formative and interim assessments purposefully designed to guide instruction and increase student learning.” For example, a plurality (40 percent) of teachers polled for the report said they think formative assessments are valuable for identifying students who need additional help, and 34 percent said classroom tests and quizzes are valuable for identifying what students are learning.

Students, for their part, seemed much more upbeat about tests, according to the pollsters. A substantial 76 percent said classroom tests and quizzes and interim assessments are helpful to learning, and 74 percent said the same about formative assessments. Parents, too, said formative assessments (74 percent) and interim assessments (69 percent) support their children’s learning.

However, when it comes to state-run standardized tests, the results are not so positive. Forty-one percent of students said state assessments are helpful to learning, and 36 percent of teachers said state assessments help “determine if students are meeting critical benchmarks.” Just 26 percent of parents said they think state assessments help improve the quality of teaching, the a larger percentage of parents said they believe state assessments help inform teaching (60 percent) and are being used to identify student needs (63 percent).

"NWEA believes public opinion about public education matters, and we   commissioned this study to illuminate the priorities and concerns of a diverse range of education stakeholders," said Matt Chapman, CEO of NWEA, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "These perspectives are supportive of ESSA's move away from singular high-stakes tests and toward multiple measures.  NWEA believes this will result in a richer teaching and learning experience and greater educational equity for all students."

Other findings from the study included:

  • 61 percent of parents said they rarely or never have conversations with teachers about their kids’ assessment results;
  • Most principals and “nearly half of superintendents” are not familiar with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA);
  • 53 percent of superintendents said they think ESSA will have a positive impact;
  • Just 32 percent of principals said they think ESSA will have a positive impact, while 62 percent said there would be no impact from ESSA.

The full report is available on NWEA’s site.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).


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