What Does Proper Testing Look Like?

OEA Task Force Sets Forth “Essential Questions” for High-Stakes Tests

As Oklahoma students begin “testing season” in our public schools, everyone connected with public education will feel the pressure. Third graders face missing promotion to fourth grade, seniors must pass four End-of-Instruction exams to graduate, and students in most every other grade must sit for lengthy testing sessions.

Teachers and schools will be judged on the scores, and parents will be left to deal with stressed-out kids at home.

While many people agree there is too much testing going on in our schools, just what makes for a proper assessment?

That’s the question the Oklahoma Education Association put to a blue ribbon panel of experts – 21 of the state’s best teachers, most of whom are National Board Certified. OEA’s Instructional Issues Task Force spent a full day early this year, discussing and dissecting two questions: “What does Oklahoma testing look like today?” and “What does proper testing look like?”

“We wanted a group of real education experts to brainstorm and flesh out the idea of just what does proper testing look like,” said Alicia Priest, OEA Vice President, who joined OEA Teaching and Learning Specialist Kim Littrell as a facilitator of the day-long conversation.

The Task Force included teachers from rural, urban and suburban schools; elementary, middle and high schools. They represented schools serving mostly low-income families and schools serving more affluent communities.

“The brainpower in the room that day was amazing,” Priest said. “There was a lot of thoughtful dialogue, a lot of charting out.”

What came out of the discussion was “Standardized Assessment in Oklahoma: Essential Questions,” a document which provides a consensus of what the group determined made for a proper test.

“Teachers will be able to use the sheet to determine if a test meets the criteria of a proper assessment and then help parents, community leaders and legislators understand how proper testing benefits a student’s learning experience,” Priest said.

Download a copy of the Essential Questions document here.


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