SC schools begin standardized testing

Updated: May. 4, 2018 at 9:25 AM EDT
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(WIS) - Over the next week, students in South Carolina are starting standardized testing for the year.

The tests are to measure whether students are college and career ready.

While the idea behind standardized testing has changed over the years, some educators today argue that students are being over-tested.

Dr. James Kirylo, Associate professor of education at USC, said standardized testing limits teachers' curriculum because they are teaching what is going to be on the test and minimizing other school activities like the arts.

His alternative? Pinpointing what needs to be assessed.

"I think we really have to take a look at some assumptions to education," Kirylo said. "I think it's important to recognize that education is about entering into relationships. Even newer science says that we are wired to be in relationships so the question becomes- 'do I teach a child or do I teach a subject matter?' - which is not a question of semantics."

Students spend an average of 20 to 25 hours a year taking standardized tests, according to a study by the Council of Great City Schools.

The grade that the child is in determines what subjects they take the tests in.

4th through 8th graders take the SCPASS tests in Science and social studies.

SCPASS tests are criterion-referenced or standards-based. For these tests, the test score indicates the amount of skill or knowledge the test taker possesses in a particular subject or content area.

SCREADY is a statewide assessment that includes tests in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. SCREADY is administered to all students in grades three through eight. 

For high schoolers, the South Carolina high school assessment program is given to all 9th grade students and is required for graduation.

There are also end of course examination programs given in numerous subjects, and don't forget about the SAT or ACT tests taken during later high school years to get into college.

Kirylo says by the time a child graduated from high school in the 1950s, he or she had taken approximately three standardized tests. In the 1990s, that number rose to about 18 to 21. Now that number is 5 times as many by the time a student graduates from high school.

"[In] 2018, it is not uncommon that somebody will take over a hundred standardized tests in one shape or form, costing tax payers in the billions," Kirylo said.

Superintendent Molly Spearman's office released a statement regarding her thoughts on standardized testing:

"Last year the State Superintendent was able to remove five state assessments in science and social studies in an effort to cut down on the number of high stakes tests students take. She was a proponent of removing additional testing, particularly in the early grades, but unfortunately this was a measure that was met with resistance by the other bodies for which testing changes have to be approved. The State Superintendent remains committed to working towards a common sense accountability system that provides quality information to students, parents, educators, and the public while maximizing instructional time for teachers and students in the classroom."

Standardized testing costs states 1.7 billion dollars per year nationwide according to a study done in 2012.

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