Teachers across the country are under fire to increase student test scores and start using tougher standards in their classrooms. They’re also about to start using new tests to find out how their students are doing. So what is it like to be a teacher right now, and what concerns do teachers have about the changes in their classrooms?
Rhode Island Public Radio's education reporter Elisabeth Harrison spoke with Newport Middle School Science Teacher Barbara Walton-Faria to find out. Walton-Faria is the chair of RI Teacher Advisory Council.
On of the state's two teachers' unions is calling for parents to get better information about how to opt out of standardized tests.
In a resolution, the executive committee of the National Education Association Rhode Island says the state and local districts should provide written information to parents about their right to remove children from testing.
The resolution stresses that teachers have a free speech right to talk to parents about opting out of testing, including the new multi-state test known as PARCC.
Congress is hammering out new requirements for public schools and federal school funding. The current bill, commonly known as the "No Child Left Behind Act," has been controversial because of the way it uses standardized test scores to measure public schools. Changes to the bill have been proposed in both houses of Congress.
Federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio's education reporter Elisabeth Harrison from Washington, D.C. to explain what these proposals could mean for Rhode Island.
The Providence Journal reports this morning that standardized testing is not mandatory for Rhode Island students. While that is technically true, it is also true that Rhode Island has no official procedure for parents and students to opt out of annual testing, and parents may encounter significant resistance if they attempt to do so.
Rhode Island has been granted a one-year extension to its waiver from the federal education law known as the “No Child Left Behind” Act. The law required schools to get all students to proficiency on standardized tests by this year.
The good news is Rhode Island's average improved by 5 points in both reading and mathematics. The State Department of Education says this is the first time scores have improved significantly since 2009.
More than 6,000 public school students took the SAT in the 2013-2014 school year, scoring an average of 484 in mathematics and 483 in critical reading.
With concern growing over the amount of time students spend on standardized testing, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has launched a review of state and local testing practices. Gist says she wants to address complaints from parents and teachers about over-testing.
“None of us wants to test students too much, and each of us can consider ways to streamline the assessment process,” Gist wrote in a letter to superintendents announcing the review, adding that the goal is to eliminate assessments that do not advance teaching and learning.