Replacing state tests with college readiness exams adds classroom time
- California Assembly Bill 1951 would give 11th-grade students the right to take the SAT or ACT in lieu of the English language arts (ELA) and math exams required by the state. The measure is authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, who is a former geography and government teacher.
- Proponents of the bill say that replacing state tests with college readiness exams reduces the number of times students have to face assessments, and districts would also be reimbursed for the exams.
- Five states now allow 11th-grade students to use the SAT as a substitute for their high school assessments, reports EdSource.
Student assessments start quickly in a child’s academic career. As early as elementary school, children understand these exams are not just a quick snapshot of their abilities, but something that can count towards their future. The New York City Department of Education, for example, puts children’s 4th-grade ELA and math assessments on their middle school applications. For upper grade the stakes are raised even more: their high school diploma and college acceptances hang on these exams.
Children, who understand these tests have a role in their future, are often keen to focus more on the material needed to pass these exams than on learning in general. And the increased pressure for states, districts and schools to raise the performance on these assessments also impacts curriculum across the country for years. The National Council of Teachers of English reported in 2014 that teachers give up between 60 to 110 hours a year of teaching time to tests and the work needed to support them.
Reducing the number of standardized tests a child must take, particularly in high school, is one move curriculum administrators might consider. Allowing 11th-graders to take a single assessment — one that can evaluate not only their abilities in their core classes but also college readiness — could help reduce overall student stress while also returning instruction time to the classroom.
By placing the emphasis back on education and not on a numbers game, curriculum administrators can help restore why children go to school in the first place: to learn.