Last night, the Rochester school board voted 6 to 1 in favor of asking Albany lawmakers and state education officials to develop a new system to evaluate student learning. The new policy, which was largely developed by board member Mary Adams, rejects the state’s reliance on standardized testing as the main way to measure student performance.
Board members heard from more than a dozen supporters of the policy, including faculty from area colleges. They said an overemphasis on testing has a negative impact on students. Testing causes anxiety, they said, and the tests don't really reflect what a student has learned during the year. More importantly, opponents said, the culture encourages teachers to teach to the tests.
The results of the whole package are students who lack critical thinking skills and are less prepared for college or a 21st century work force, speakers said.
Board member Cynthia Elliott was the lone vote against the measure. She said the resolution does not provide policy makers in Albany with examples of assessment tools that should replace standardized testing.
The policy is largely symbolic and does not say that district officials will stop using standardized testing. But Adams described the policy as a good “first step.”