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Standardized Tests Could Have Smaller Impact Under New Law

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How should schools and teachers be evaluated in Virginia? And what role should standardized testing play. Michael Pope reports those tests are about to have less of an influence in schools across the Commonwealth.

16 years ago, schools across the country experienced a radically transformation — a reform effort known as No Child Left Behind. It relied on state testing data to apply federal punishments. Parents were able to abandon failing schools, for example. Virginia Eduction Association President Jim Livingston says No Child Left Behind created… 

“A never-ending cycle of test and punish, test and punish, test and punish, which in reality set unrealistic goals for not only schools and school divisions but quite frankly for students.”

Schools were expected to achieve 100% pass rates, for example, or be punished. Now that’s been done away with and a new law is moving ahead, the Every Student Succeeds Act. It gives states the ability to use data other than test scores to evaluate students. The Virginia Board of Education is now considering using chronic absenteeism as one measure — in addition to test scores. Chris Duncome at the Commonwealth Institute says that might reduce the number of short-term suspensions and long-term suspensions.

“It would create a further incentive for schools to take a look at their school suspension policies and make sure that they are doing all of their best efforts to keep kids win the classroom.”

This month, state officials will be conducting a series of public hearings on the proposal to use chronic absenteeism as part of the formula for evaluating schools. The Board of Education is expected to vote on July 27th.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association