Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Kline Calls for End to High-Stakes Standardized Testing

Chelsea Kline Calls for End to High-Stakes Standardized Tests
Proposal would create new Whole Child Learning grant program using MCAS funds

NORTHAMPTON – Chelsea Kline, a Democratic candidate for State Senate, announced an ambitious plan to end high-stakes standardized testing and create a Whole Child Learning grant program to help school districts address student needs.

“No student should be prevented from graduating because of a test we know is a better measure of their family wealth than their ability to learn,” said Kline. “No teacher should lose their job because they’re focused on the needs of their students, and not teaching to the test. We need to completely restructure the way we measure student learning. Rather than support a testing regime that furthers the inequalities in our education system, we should spend the resources on empowering local public schools to focus on the needs of students.”

Kline’s proposal would put an end to severe consequences of the state exams, known as MCAS, by protecting students, teachers, and public schools from penalties due to the test results. Standardized tests like MCAS are considered high-stakes because their results impact teacher evaluations, student eligibility for graduation, and even decisions about whether a school or district should face a state takeover. In 2015, MCAS results played a major role in the state takeover of public schools in Holyoke.

The MCAS exam, first designed in the 1990s, has faced withering criticism from educators and researchers who say the results are mostly due to family income, parental educational attainment, and other factors outside of school and unrelated to student learning.

The state is slated to spend more than $32 million in the coming year on MCAS, a figure that does not include classroom time lost to preparing for and administering the exam. Kline’s plan would redirect those funds toward student-centered approaches to education, including:

$2 million to the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovation in Education Assessment (MCIEA) to develop a more fair, accurate, and locally controlled accountability system 

$30 million for a Whole Child Learning grant program for school districts. Grants could be used to fund social workers, social and emotional learning programs, special education programs, English language learning programs, or programs designed to support low-income students, like breakfast in the classroom. 

“Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, Massachusetts has the freedom to design an accountability system centered on the whole child, instead of centered on standardized tests,” said Kline. “It’s time for us to once again lead the nation in public education.”

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