Teachers to lawmakers: Hawaii kids are taking too many standardized tests

Teachers to lawmakers: Hawaii kids are taking too many standardized tests

HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the United States, 81 percent of teachers believe that their students spend too much time taking tests, according to a study by the Center on Education Policy.

In Hawaii, a bill that would reduce the number of standardized tests in the islands is making its way through the State Legislature. If passed, House Bill 2117 would limit the number of standardized tests each student can be administered to just four a year, the Federal minimum.

In his testimony to the Legislature, Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teacher Association, expressed strong support for the measure, citing the distinct variation in the number of standardized tests taken by students in each district.

"A typical student takes over 100 mandated standardized tests between pre-kindergarten classes and 12th grade," Rosenlee said in his testimony. "By contrast, most countries that outperform the United States on international exams test students only three times during their school careers."

In 2015, the federal government passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, allowing states to limit the amount of time that students spend taking standardized tests.

According to Rosenlee, Hawaii students still spend over 60 instructional hours on standardized testing, taking up precious time that would otherwise be spent learning.

The purpose of the federal act was to limit the amount of time students spent taking standardized tests in classrooms, and increase the amount of time students spent having real-world experiences.

According to Rosenlee's testimony, Kau-Keeau-Pahoa complex area students take an average of 35 tests from kindergarten to 12th grade. In contrast, the average Campbell-Kapolei area student takes as many as 104 standardized tests in their academic careers.

"Life is not a standardized test," Rosenlee said.

The bill would also allow schools to apply for additional standardized testing waivers with the Hawaii Board of Education, which would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Students with special needs would also be eligible for time exemptions under the bill.

Schools Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto dissented from Rosenlee's view about the measure, saying that the bill "is not necessary at this time".

She believes that HIDOE's current efforts to curb testing are sufficient, and that without standardized testing, there would be no tool to hold educators accountable, or measure student success.

"Standardized testing provides information on academic progress ... while aggregated results inform educators and policy-makers by providing a measure of accountability for the public education system."

"Outside of standardized test results, no objective measure exists for policymakers to identify student academic achievement," said Kishimoto in her testimony.

The bill will next be heard by the legislative committee on education Wednesday at 3:10 p.m. in conference room 229 in the state Capitol.

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