In looking at the array of tests students face today, some people have ventured those enrolled in Fairfax County Public Schools — and other systems across the country — are overtested.
Last week, Fairfax officials released new information about a new pilot test given across 10 county high schools, which asked students to draw on both prior knowledge and new information to solve problems across disciplines instead of simply recalling what they learned in any given year, as is often the case with standardized tests like Virginia's Standards of Learning exams.
With it comes an opportunity to change the way the system assesses its students, officials said.
"It's worth exploring as we explore how we can be less test obsessed," school board member Sandy Evans (Mason) said Thursday.
But how does the system balance tests that could be better with those they're required to take, by Virginia ad the U.S. Department of Education?
One one hand, "the PISA test is an example of one type of assessment we could be using in FCPS to measure, reliably, our goals for our students. It is an example of the type of test that would not be given every year, in every subject. Instead, this kind of test measures critical thinking and problem-solving across disciplines, at intervals in a child’s school career," school board member Pat Hynes wrote in a blog post on Patch.
On the other, it's unclear how it could fit into the testing that already exists.
"I feel like I'm always studying for another test," Lucy Gunter, the school board's student representative, told the school board last week. "[I hope] finding a way to decrease the amount of testing can be found with these results to alleviate some of the stress most students are under right now."
Steve Greenburg, president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, suggested more testing on top of what already exists "is interfering with our instructional time, and damaging our ability to establish those important interpersonal relationships that we need with our students to support them emotionally and socially,” he said.
And, Hynes writes in her post, "no standardized test is sufficient to give teachers, parents, students and the community the wealth of information we need to make good decisions about policy and practice."
Tell us: What tests should schools keep, and what should they leave behind? What skills are most important to measure for 21st century success? Let us know in the comments.