Education

Diane Ravitch to headline community conversation about the impact of excessive testing

Noted educational policy analyst Diane Ravitch will be the featured speaker Saturday for a community conversation to discuss the toll excessive testing has on teachers and students.
Ravitch, a professor at New York University, is an outspoken critic of excessive-testing. She will Skype in for the event held at Temple Baptist Church, 1417 Clifton Road, Raleigh, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Skype session is scheduled to begin at 9:15 a.m.
Ravitch is the author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education” and “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.”
She is a prolific blogger on education policy issues at dianeravitch.net.
Saturday’s community conversation is being hosted by Jen Mangrum, a UNC-Greensboro education professor who is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, N.C. Families for Testing Reform, Save Our Schools NC and N.C. Families for Public Schooling.
The event comes a little more than two months after State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced new initiatives to reduce the amount of testing currently required of students in North Carolina’s public schools.
Johnson has pledged to reduce the number of questions on tests, reduce the time students must sit for tests, change testing policies to reduce the stress at schools, work with local leaders to reduce the number of locally required tests and push to eliminate tests not required by the federal government.

A survey about testing conducted by Johnson’s office found that 78 percent of the roughly 42,000 parents who responded said their child takes too many tests. Seventy-six percent of teachers who responded said North Carolina’s public school students were being tested too much.
The State Board of Education is weighing the elimination of the state’s fourth grade exams in science and social studies and the fifth-grade exam in social studies as way to reduce the amount of testing in North Carolina Schools.
Critics of high-stakes standardized testing say such tests are stressful for students and teachers.
“Our current practice of alerting 8-year-olds they aren’t on a trajectory to be “college or career ready” is not useful nor developmentally appropriate and it is counter-productive in motivating learners,” Mangrum said in a statement.
Suzanne Miller, a parent and founder of N.C. Families for School Testing Reform, said North Carolina must stop forcing students to prepare for end-of-grade tests that don’t help them grow academically.
“North Carolina children need focused, strategic assessment that gives meaningful feedback,” Miller said.
Susan Book, a parent organizer for Save our Schools, it’s unfair to make educational decisions about her child, who has autism, “based on one test he takes on one day.”
A panel discussion moderated by Jeff Bryant, an educator writer from Chapel Hill, will take place from noon to 1 p.m.
The panel includes State Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham, Loury Floyd, dean of the School of Education at N.C. A&T State University, Addy Jeffry, a board member for the Latino Community Coalition of Guilford County, Alison Mercier, a former teacher and current doctoral student at UNC-G and Jaclyn Turnwald, a high school English teacher in Durham Public Schools.

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