High-stakes testing won’t improve schools

Having served on a local school board for many years, I am very concerned about the obsession with testing in our classrooms and how we are going to pay for it. Somebody thought high-stakes testing was a good idea because of a concern that drop-out rates were high and graduation rates were low.

In reality, that is not the case in the majority of school districts. The solution should target the problem – not blanket the entire education community. People need to know that good teaching and learning need room for creativity. That does not happen by whipping out another test. Rather than a one-size-fits all “solution” to “reform” districts, we need to address the specific problem, and nurture the diversity of talents and interests among our students. Then the results will be positive.

We must target our spending and resources carefully. Funding from the state is seriously eroded, and local funding is limited by the tax cap. Most districts have cut staffing and increased class sizes, yet must implement the state’s new teacher and principal evaluations systems that will cost more time and money. Now the federal fiscal cliff also threatens school district funding. The sequestration cuts would cut into funding for Title 1 aid for disadvantaged students and aid for students with disabilities. Special education services are mandated, so school districts would have to make up the difference. This would mean diverting money from other programs and services.

Once we get done paying for all the tests, who is going to be left to teach the students?

Janice Dalbo

West Seneca School Board Member

West Seneca