The Answer Sheet at the Washington Post reported that the Texas House put forth a draft 2014-15 budget that zeroes out all funding for statewide standardized assessment. They also reported that of the 180-day school year, high school students now spend up to 45 days taking various standardized exams – 25% of the year is spent on standardized testing (my high school self just cringed a little bit). Reading this reminded me of a retro video we released last fall where we compared the amount of time kids spend in school to the actual amount of time they spend gaining new knowledge.
Now let me be clear; I am not endorsing taking away state funding for standardized assessments. I do think however, that it is worth taking a step back and understanding what goes on in a traditional 6.5 hour and 180 day school calendar. Nationally, standardized tests, assembles, fire drills, lunch, and teacher professional days – all completely necessary components of the school day/year- do ultimately take away from other necessary components critical in keeping students engaged, thinking, and learning. However, at 1,000 schools across the country, schools have time for both. With longer school days and/or years, they can teach literacy and math while also having time for arts, drama, sports, etc.
How crazy it is of us to ask our students, teachers, and schools to do more and more in our fast past, 21st century society, with the exact same school schedule and model from centuries past? Don’t we owe them more?