COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)—As students across South Carolina in grades 3 through 8 take the SC Ready standardized test starting Tuesday, an education professor at the University of South Carolina says, “We are overtesting.”
James Kirylo, Ph.D., says before the 1950s, by the time a child graduated from high school he had taken approximately three standardized tests. Now, by the time a student graduates high school, he’s taken anywhere from 60 to 100 standardized tests.
He thinks that students should be evaluated on their “body of work” in a class or subject instead of on a standardized test. “We’re taking that one test and we are evaluating the student, we’re placing a value on student, teacher, school, system, principal, state, just on these one scores and that is just a false way, a false narrative on making a judgment or an evaluation of a school,” he says.
He says the current climate of overtesting is causing stress for student, teachers, and parents, and has caused lots of teachers to quit. He says it also narrows the curriculum because teachers have to exclude some knowledge so they can be sure to teach what’s going to be on the tests, and minimizes other activities like the arts.
He would like to see a moratorium on all standardized testing.
State education superintendent Molly Spearman says there are some standardized tests that are required by the federal government so there’s no way a state could stop requiring them altogether, but she agrees that our students are overtested.
“I’m a huge advocate of less testing,” she says. “Now, I know we need to be accountable and we need to give meaningful tests to give good information back to teachers, parents, and students, but sometimes we’ve gone overboard with it.”
She says she’s hoping the state Senate will pass a bill that the House has already passed that would reduce the number of tests students take in grades 3 through 8. Instead of taking tests every year on both science and social studies, they would alternate, taking a test on one subject one year and the other subject the next. That would reduce the overall number of standardized tests by five.