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Education

Obama calls for less school testing: What California's classrooms do now




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The White House made a quiet announcement on Saturday: Testing in schools has gone too far, and it needs to be reeled in. 

The administration wants teachers to spend no more than 2 percent of class time on prepping for and taking tests. 

President Barack Obama also acknowledged his administration's role in excess testing, but this new announcement is a "plan" and has no force of law.

 

If our kids had more free time at school, what would you want them to do with it? A) Learn to play a musical instrument?B) Study a new language?C) Learn how to code HTML?D) Take more standardized tests?Take the quiz, then watch President Obama's message about smarter ways to measure our kids’ progress in school.

Posted by The White House on Saturday, October 24, 2015

Michael Kirst, president of the California Board of Education, says right now, testing in California is mostly up to local school boards. The state only requires testing for grades three through eight, in addition to 11th graders in the subjects of English and math. There are also tests for students who are low-performing or severely handicapped, Kirst said. 

"California has cut testing under Gov. Brown by over 50 percent since 2013, so I don't think the state in California is anywhere close to 2 percent. But the locals have the right to add on and do whatever they want. So you need to pay attention to each school district," he said.

While California has altered state testing to be based on critical thinking and not just multiple-choice answers, some teachers might feel they are still teaching toward a test. Kirst said while there is nothing wrong with teaching toward a quality test, the exams can also help teachers. 

"There's nothing wrong with teaching to a really, really good test," Kirst said. "We feel that our new test is partly an instructional improvement system, and so we are giving teachers more and more details, in the future, about how students are doing and how they can revise their teaching practice and approach. So its not just test to take a test. The California system is assessment or testing to improve teaching and get better instruction."   

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.