Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 20, 2013

OUR VIEW: Not sure about school testing

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — There was a time when tests in school used to help measure a student’s performance. That idea seems to have gone out the window with the simple teaching of the Three R’s.

Today, testing at the state level appears to be nothing more than busy work for Albany bureaucrats who know nothing about education and everything about turning something simple into a complicated mess.

Take the recent results for Lockport schools. Local educators are still trying to figure them out because, in the words of the district’s director of assessment and technology Robert LiPuma, “we’re not comparing apples to apples.”

Taking a look at the last few years, it appears that educators are dealing with an entire fruit basket:

• The State Education Department changed its scoring system during the 2009-10 academic year.

• The 2011-12 English Language Arts eighth grade test featured a bizarre series of questions surrounding a story about a pineapple challenging a hare to a race.

• This year the test was changed to increase the rigors and time it takes to complete the ELA and math tests.

Constant tinkering with test applications and interpretations is no way to measure a child’s success. Furthermore, there’s no true accuracy to a test when children are asked to answer vague questions. This was the case with the hare and the pineapple fiasco.

What use are test results when they can’t be deciphered? When reasonable and intelligent people can’t figure out what the numbers mean, it’s not a good sign, nor is it a ringing endorsement of the testing process.

State testing has become a waste of taxpayer money that unnecessarily stresses out teachers and students alike.

The time has come to rate the State Education Department on its performance because it appears, thanks to state testing, that the so-called Three R’s no longer stand for “reading, writing and arithmetic.” They now stand for “reckless, ramshackle and ruinous.”