Back to School: Rethinking standardized testing

Back to School: Rethinking standardized testing

The standardized test. Few things create more anxiety for students, which is why Rhode Island educators are changing their approach.

“It's not about the test,” says Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. “And kids, especially in the younger years, shouldn't be stressing over the test.”

Wagner says tests like PARCC are a tool for the state to measure progress. They show educators if their approach to teaching is working.

“We invest, in Rhode Island, a billion dollars a year in our schools, so to me it just makes perfect sense that we have to have evidence of whether or not we're making progress,” says Wagner.

So what can students expect this year?

PARCC testing remains in place for grades 3-8, but there are some changes at the high school level.

“We scaled back the amount of testing, the amount of PARCC testing at the high school level by 50 percent, we went from two tests per subject to one test per subject,” says Wagner.

That's to make room for two, new optional tests. This year, Rhode Island public schools are offering students free access to the PSAT and SAT during the school day.

“We shouldn't be doing high school the same way we did it in the 19th century, so having hands on learning opportunities that balance academic skills with job readiness skills really is a way forward,” says Wagner.

The PSAT will be offered this Fall. The SAT will be offered in the Spring.

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