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Less time spent on standardized tests good for students: Tom Mehaffie

Posted 8/30/17

Students and parents in the 106th District can breathe a small sigh of relief as they head back to school for the 2017-18 academic year. Thanks to a new development at the state level, students will …

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Less time spent on standardized tests good for students: Tom Mehaffie

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Students and parents in the 106th District can breathe a small sigh of relief as they head back to school for the 2017-18 academic year. Thanks to a new development at the state level, students will spend 20 percent more time in the classroom learning, rather than on statewide standardized testing. 

The good news was announced recently by Gov. Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Beginning this school year, students and teachers in grades three through eight will spend an average of 20 percent less time on statewide testing. 

PDE removed two sections — one in math, one in English language arts — and additional questions from the science section, which could eliminate up to two full testing days for some schools. Currently, the PSSA exams take place during a three-week testing window identified by school districts, and this schedule will apply to the shortened assessments in 2018. 

For test administration in 2019, PDE anticipates shortening that window and moving it toward the end of the year to provide teachers more time for instruction. 

For our children, that means fewer days spent enduring stressful, one-size-fits-all testing procedures. Instead, they will have more time to learn things that will actually have a positive impact on their future. Questions about the difference between stalactites and stalagmites don’t serve as practical knowledge. 

As a business owner, I have never asked someone who walks into my store looking for a job what they scored on the PSSA. I want to know that he or she understands how to work through a real-world problem. I recognize students are in school to learn and tests measure knowledge and provide accountability, but too many of these tests have replaced teaching kids to write their signatures or how to make change for a dollar.

For those reasons and more, I am thrilled we were able to cut down on the amount of standardized testing this school year and beyond. However, I think we can cut down even more on unnecessary standardized testing in our classrooms. You would be hard-pressed to find a student, parent or educator today who thinks the amount of standardized testing we push on our students is effective. 

Our teachers put a lot of time and energy into lesson plans. Pressure to “teach to a test” has no place in the curriculum.

State Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Lower Swatara Township, represents the 106th Pennsylvania House District. Reach him at 717-534-1323 or tmehaffie@pahousegop.com.


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