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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: standardized testing

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January 7, 2015 at 5:00 AM

Tacoma deputy supe hailed for measuring more than test scores

Josh Garcia, deputy superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools, has received his second national award in two years, named a “leader to learn from” by Education Week, a national newsweekly.

Josh Garcia. Courtesy Tacoma Public Schools.

Josh Garcia. Courtesy Tacoma Public Schools.

That follows his March 2013 honor as one of the nation’s outstanding young educators. That award was given by the ASCD, a 125,000-member education nonprofit founded in 1943.

For the most recent award, Education Week heralded Garcia’s role in building Tacoma Public School’s accountability system, which goes well beyond the usual reading and math scores. In Tacoma, the district and its schools are judged by about 40 measures, everything from how many students participate in extracurricular activities, to how many families are registered as school volunteers. The full list can be found here.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Josh Garcia, standardized testing, Tacoma Public Schools

October 16, 2014 at 5:00 AM

School chiefs concede: Too much testing crowds out learning

As in politics, education-speak generates incessant reading of the tea leaves. So Wednesday’s statement from state education chiefs calling for more “rationality, coherence and purpose” in student testing sounded, possibly, like an admission that those things are lacking.

In New York, for example, State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said testing “sometimes even crowds out time for student learning.”

That’s about as blunt as state school officials get. Even U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan took up their call: “In some places, tests  and preparation for them  are dominating the calendar and culture of schools,” he said.

Whoa. Are the backers of Common Core State Standards (and the tests that come with them) waving a white flag? Extending an olive branch to teachers and parents who have pushed back with increasing vigor against standardized testing?


Comments | More in News | Topics: Arne Duncan, common core, standardized testing

March 18, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Guest: Playing by the rules of the SAT game

Dennis McDuffie

Dennis McDuffie

On the surface, the SAT makes sense. In an era where standardized testing has become the focal point of American education, requiring tests for college admission seems logical. But what does this exam really measure?

Some universities argue that SAT scores directly correlate with success in college, but far too many students are exceptions to this generalization. The test material measures how well students can follow the rules of a game, which is not relevant to success beyond the testing room.

Unlike college, the test requires little critical thinking and primarily assesses students’ ability to withstand six hours of purposefully deceiving questions. Those who can readily detect deceptive responses are not necessarily any smarter than those who fall for the occasional trick. I can testify to this statement from my own experience.

After three SAT tests and three SAT subject tests, I have both lost and won in this game. I took the SAT last May and again in June, and my cumulative score increased an insignificant 10 points the second time. My scores were well above average, but I did not attain the level necessary for the highly selective colleges on my list.


Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: guest opinion, higher ed, SAT