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What does the research say about the value of standardized testing in light of the COVID pandemic?



According to Giles & Hargreaves (2006), standardized reform has encouraged regression toward the conventional curriculum mean and inhibited organizational learning across departmental boundaries. Giles & Hargreaves (2006) researched the Blue Mountain school, which was known as an innovative school, and used student portfolios and exhibitions as student assessment and accountability measures for teachers regarding the skills student-developed during the school year. The school's curricular philosophy prided itself on open access to technology for all and a collaborative and integrated program. The school was hailed as a model of success. As the school's socio-economic population changed, external accountability began to mandate standardized testing. Blue Mountain's innovative curriculum began to crumble due to teacher preparation time and key faculty loss. Loss of resources, especially time, have also affected Blue Mountain's ability to retain its curriculum lead as a "high-tech" school (Giles & Hargreaves, 2006 p.145).


The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the digital divide for students. As K-12 official in many states…confront the reality that some students do not have reliable access to the internet at home, particularly those from lower-income households (Auxier & Anderson, 2020 p. 1). Student success during the Covid-19 pandemic relies heavily on access to the internet and sustainable wi-fi connections. Before the pandemic, roughly two-thirds of students attending suburban school (65%) say they use the internet for homework every day or almost every day, compared to cities (58%), rural (50%), and towns (44%) (Auxier & Anderson, 2020 p. 2). Not all students in suburban areas used computers regularly or daily for homework; however, the data highlights that 65% of suburban students were already more prepared than their counterparts to shift to online learning if such a disaster as the pandemic would arise.


Based on our COVID Slide projections, students who did not receive remote instruction in the spring would begin this fall with approximately 64% to 68% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year and with 37% to 50% of the learning gains in mathematics (Kuhfeld et al., 2020 p. 560).


Each organization calls for school services that support the whole child. Neill (2009) shares that the Forum for Educational accountability proposes schools that collaborate with families and communities to provide academic, social, civic, mental, social, emotional, ethical, and physical supports to level the playing field for vulnerable children and families.


Standardized tests before, during, and post the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to highlight the racial disparities in the U.S. by showcasing who is considered valuable in the eyes of the law. Standardized testing at Blue Mountain inhibited teachers' ability to prepare students to be free thinkers and analysts of the world around them. The COVID-19 pandemic provides the U.S. the opportunity to prioritize effective classroom instruction and school-based assessment to monitor students' growth and needs. The world has changed due to the pandemic forcing the long-overdue overhaul of the U.S. educational system.


References:


* Auxier, B., & Anderson, M. (2020, March 16). As schools close due to the coronavirus, some U.S. students face a digital "homework gap." Pew Research Center; Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/16/as-schools-close-due-to-the-coronavirus-some-u-s-students-face-a-digital-homework-gap/

* Giles, C., & Hargreaves, A. (2006). The Sustainability of Innovative Schools as Learning Organizations and Professional Learning Communities During Standardized Reform. Educational Administration Quarterly, 42(1), 124–156. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161x05278189

* Kuhfeld, M., Soland, J., Tarasawa, B., Johnson, A., Ruzek, E., & Liu, J. (2020). Projecting the Potential Impact of COVID-19 School Closures on Academic Achievement. Educational Researcher, 49(8), 549–565. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189x20965918

* NAACP | Coronavirus Impact on Students and Education Systems. (2020, April). NAACP. https://www.naacp.org/coronavirus/coronavirus-impact-on-students-and-education-systems/

* Neill, M. (2009). A child is not a test score: Assessment as a civil rights issue. Root and Branch, 2(2), 28–35. https://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/root%20&%20branch%20fall%20-%20MN%20testing%20only.pdf

* Saenz, T. (2020, December). President's Message | MALDEF. Maldef.org. https://www.maldef.org/media/presidents-message/




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