Is Testing Overrated for Students and Teachers?

For most teachers and students, testing remains the educational equivalent of a root canal. It's endured, and then recalled with relief. It's not something deeply integrated with teaching that reinforces long-term educational goals like developing students' ability to engage in thoughtful, reasoned argumentation.

The opt-out movement was a warning sign, the first rumble of a sentiment that has spread, just like the teacher protests of the past year. If policymakers want to preserve the long-term health of our testing ecosystem—and help teachers feel invested in, rather than victimized by it—the time to act is now.

The main questions on the table: Should we rethink the annual testing of every student? Could such a revision be balanced against the clear need to maintain a focus on those students who have been least well-served by K-12 education?

For now, annual testing isn't going anywhere; it's enshrined in federal law. But if the politics of the last two years prove anything, it's that longstanding policies, even those long thought inviolable, can be rewritten.

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