What the testers really think about all of the testing

By: Rachel Roach

On February 23, 2016 Nadine Wimmer, of KSL 5 News, presented a story called, “Too much testing? How high-stakes testing impacts our children.” This story got me interested in this topic and made me wonder if our students really are being tested too much. I then wondered if the testers who are actually administering the tests think that students are being tested too much.

I interviewed Lin Hooper, a tester in the Salt Lake City School District, on her thoughts about the testing she administers to kids from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I first asked her if she thinks the tests that she is giving are beneficial to the student themselves. She responded, “The only benefit is really for the teachers and parents.  The tests we administer show the child’s proficiency level in reading and the use and understanding of the English language.” It was interesting that she thinks that the tests don’t even benefit the children at all, that it only benefits the parents and teachers. Don’t you think that the tests that children are taking should help them in some way? To be better readers, to feel more confident while reading, or just to enjoy reading in and of itself?

“Shortening the length of the English language test would be beneficial because they would not burn out and give up so readily.  Also on that test (WIDA), if they only had to take the parts of the test the[y] didn’t pass the year before instead of having to take the entire test again would be much more motivating to them,” Hooper said happily. Also, shortening this test would allow the testing to go much faster. This would make it so kids would be in class more often rather than sitting at a table taking a test they don’t even care about. Hooper says that most of the kids that take these tests, WIDA and Dibles, just aren’t that interested in the outcome.

Another test, called Dibles, is one that you have to take multiple times a year, but why should you have to take it more than once or twice if you have passed it? Hooper agrees that if you pass it once or twice, you shouldn’t have to take it the multiple other times during the school year. This would clear up so much time for teachers, allowing them to actually teach instead of having to prep their students for a test that they have taken so many times already. It’s frustrating for the testers too. They have to test all of the kids in a school multiple times when most of them have already passed the test. If Hooper could it have her way she would reduce the amount of tests that students take.

“The tests are mandated by people who have never taught or been in classroom other than as children.  There are so many factors that go into a child’s success at school and testing only shows the results of a small number of them.”

In reality, how many of the people who make these tests were ever teachers or worked in a school? Most likely that number is very low. How can they make a good test for the students to take if they don’t understand how the school works? They need to have inside knowledge to create a test that will benefit the students learning and also be time efficient.

Overall, Hooper thinks that if they have less testing kids will actually enjoy learning more. “I would most assuredly reduce the number and kinds of tests given. Maybe then students could love to learn instead of learn to test!” So how do we get our schools to go back to this concept of having their students love to learn instead of learn how to test? Maybe we should take Hooper’s advice of having teachers make the tests that students take since they do have an inside look on how students learn.

Hooper loves when she sees students do better on a test than they did the time before. Seeing them succeed is very rewarding, but she would love it if all of the testing would be reduced in the Salt Lake City school districts. It has come to the point that it is too much, even for the testers themselves.