Changes to standardized testing could happen in SC schools

Changes to standardized testing could happen in SC schools

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Lawmakers could soon change standardized testing procedures in South Carolina public school classrooms.

The push for a switch comes after the state's public education is placed last in the nation, by the U.S. News and World Report. Some school leaders argue against the proposal and the amount of testing required of students.

Those like Kershaw County Schools Superintendent Frank Morgan argue it doesn't lighten the testing load on students enough.

"I began as a math teacher here at Camden High School, taught here for 13 years," Camden High School Principal Dan Matthews says.

Matthews is familiar with the state's testing mandates on students. His multiple concerns cause him to question if all testing is even necessary.

"There is a great deal of stress this builds up," Matthews said. "At some level, we need to step back a little and look at why we're doing this."

Kershaw County Schools Superintendent Frank Morgan feels the same, that measuring children can often be the goal behind standardized tests, which can be hard on students and drive away good teachers.

"You know, you don't help the sheep to grow by simply measuring them. You have to nourish them. And I don't think that this proposal has anything to do with anything other than measuring the sheep," Morgan says.

Both of them are against the proposed changes, brought by the state's Education Oversight Committee, or EOC.

The EOC suggests merging the state and federal report card on schools to create one single combined measuring, rating schools from A to F on a scale, ranking schools based on things like the four-year graduation rate, and focusing more on ACT test performance as an indicator of college readiness.

But Morgan says there's not enough in the current proposal to lighten the testing load, believes there could be more even some more, optional testing added. But the committee says there's reason to this.

"Parents need to know where their child is at any point in time on that path to become college and career ready. At the same time, we need a snapshot of every year in South Carolina, how we're doing," EOC Executive Director Melanie Barton says.

The Department of Education says the plan would reduce the amount of testing, but believes there should be even more done to reduce testing on children.

Deputy Superintendent Sheila Quinn says there's testing both taken away and added to the requirements under the plan, and in the end, the state would still mandate more testing than is federally required.

"I think the concerns that we have, is that we could go further to reduce testing. That would save our state some money. It would also allow our teachers to teach very differently in those grades," Deputy Superintendent Sheila Quinn says.

That EOC proposal is expected to be formed into a bill later this month. Those like Morgan and Matthews are asking parents to speak out to lawmakers for a different plan.

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