Teachers push to reduce standardized testing for Hawaii public schools

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More time to focus on teaching students in the classroom. 

That’s what teachers said they want.

Wednesday, they will gather at the State Capitol in support of a bill that will give them that valuable time back. Time currently being used taking and preparing for standardized tests.

“I don’t personally feel that the standardized testing is useful or serves much of a purpose,” Lisa Morrison said. Morrison has been a teacher for 11 years. She is currently a student activities coordinator at Maui Waena Intermediate.

“I was a math teacher before and actually stopped teaching math because of the standardized testing,” Morrison said.

She said the tests aren’t doing what they were intended to do.

“It was implemented as a way to supposedly see if our schools are performing,” Morrison said. “I don’t think that the test results really are a reflection of how schools are doing.”

The Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee said there are simply too many tests. HSTA represents more than 13 thousand teachers in Hawaii.

They recently conducted a survey and found that Hawaii students took an average of 10 standardized tests in the 2016-2017 school year.

The survey also uncovered the children being tested the most.

“The highest tested grade was fourth grade,” Rosenlee said. “On average, those kids are taking 14 tests, standardized tests, in one year and that doesn’t include other tests that they’re getting from teachers too.”

Rosenlee said the point of this bill isn’t to eliminate the standardized tests, only to reduce how many kids have to take.

“We now have the every child succeeds test that lets us go to four tests a year, and that’s what we’re trying to move to,” Rosenlee explained.

For him and many teachers, the goal is to find the best way to educate island keiki.

“What teachers know is that we need to spend time on teaching and learning and not on testing,” Rosenlee said. “I think there’s been this whole craze that if we take more tests that’s going to prove learning and teachers know that’s not the real case…what we want to do is move to more project based assessment, move to more creative things that have open-ended answers, that’s what’s happening in the real world. I mean, you don’t go through life filling out a bunch of bubbles.” 

The Department of Education is against the bill and cutting down the number of tests.
Schools superintendent, Dr. Christina Kishimoto said, “The department recognizes the value of standardized testing as a valid, reliable and efficient means to ensure that students are equipped for college and career success.”

HB2117 passed in the House. It will be heard by the Senate Education Committee Wednesday, March 21 at 3:10 p.m. In room 229 at the state Capitol. 

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