Most teachers are in favor of their state having standards to guide instruction, but only about a third express support for current state tests to measure students’ mastery of those standards, according to the RAND Corporation’s survey of teachers from across the U.S.
Teachers at the high school level and those serving more students from low-income families were more likely to support math and English language arts standards. And some of those groups of teachers were more likely to show support for statewide assessments.
Concerns about the difficulty of state tests and whether they accurately measure the skills of students with special learning needs were more common among those who did not support their state’s tests.
The researchers recommend that it’s important for states to make sure that assessments are in close alignment with state standards. In fact, one finding in a 2014 survey conducted by Teach Plus was that when tests were “properly used in conjunction with the curriculum,” teachers saw the amount of time spent on those assessments as less of a problem.
Under their plans to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, states have had the opportunity to take a closer look at which tests they were requiring and whether they could eliminate some. But local districts and even individual schools should also examine whether they are administering assessments that are duplicating information that other tests are already measuring.
RAND also recommends that states should communicate to teachers, schools and families what a test will be measuring, which could lead to “less frustration” if it’s clear that the tests are closely tied to academic standards.