Media partner

Site stats: September traffic | Cambridge Day: News >> 

Your View (site blog, not mine personally)

Your View is the place for opinion at It is the site's only blog. Please submit your opinions to be considered for publication on this site. The best opinions are those supported by facts. You cannot expect to be published if your views lack factual support or if you make personal attacks. For your views to be published, your full, real name is required.
3 minutes reading time (602 words)

Educator addresses the big picture about testing

I want to talk, instead, about the big picture. I am an educator in the trenches. I work in schools where the difference between a 222 and a 218 on the 10th grade MCAS can be the difference between a future and no future. Preliminary MCAS data came on out Monday, and I can already tell you that our focus on writing is paying off, with our students, most of whom are from Lawrence, only about 1/10 of a point behind state averages on open response and long comp, but we need to drill down on the Key Ideas and Details and Craft and Structure reading standards to figure out how best to address our weaknesses. Next Wednesday, I’m meeting with a team of teachers to align DDM rubrics. In other words, I take assessments and state mandates very seriously.

And yet sometimes, I stop and I ask myself, what are we doing? Did any of us really go into education because we wanted to give kids tests? I don’t think so. I think you all, like me, are involved in education because you want to see kids learn and grow in the best possible way. Is assessment part of that learning and growing? Absolutely. Is piling more and more tests onto our children the best possible way? I don’t think so.

Arlington students take quizzes, unit tests, PSATs, and AP exams. They do DDMs, which are sometimes integrated into classroom and/or common assessments, but sometimes aren’t - as we saw two weeks ago. If they are ELL students, they take ACCESS. If they are in kindergarten, they will now be taking the GOLD assessment, and soon they will be taking standardized tests in grades 1 and 2 as well. Once they hit third grade, they take MCAS, and they may eventually take PARCC.

We can split hairs on whether PARCC means more testing sessions (it does) or potentially fewer testing hours (you can look at it that way), but there is no doubt that we are just seeing the beginning of the additional testing that PARCC will entail -- their original plan included optional formative assessments, and a recent update spoke about diagnostic assessments and speaking and listening assessments. If those tests are there, districts are going to administer them.

But is this really the way we want to go? Does the Arlington community want a testing-oriented educational environment? Do we think it’s acceptable that the state keeps throwing new assessment mandates at us, without our input?

Massachusetts is a state that takes its decision making seriously and is not afraid to reconsider. Look at casinos: six months ago, they seemed like a done deal; now they’re back on the ballot. A month ago the message from DESE was that districts should switch to PARCC next year - the title of their PowerPoint on the subject is “Why PARCC in 2015?” Now that districts are not falling into line, for a variety of reasons, from technology to philosophy, Mitchell Chester is changing his tune and saying they want a 50-50 split between PARCC and MCAS. If this was ever a predetermined situation, it isn’t anymore.

I’m not asking you to a make a protest vote. I’m asking you to vote for what you think is the right path for our children. Your decision is for next year, but it also has implications for where we, as a state and a community, go in the future. I know you take the responsibility of that decision very seriously, and I appreciate your attention this evening.

This viewpoint was published Thursday, June 26, 2014.

Location (Map)

Letters: Emailing Advocate & Star? Copy it here; i...


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Friday, 07 October 2022
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

Captcha Image

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to

YOUR VIEW: Opinions: Murals politics, Town Day, Medford St., AFD, ACMi, poetry, Mugar, Alewife

Latest comments

Bob Sprague Letters: Emailing Advocate & Star? Copy it here; it'll be published first
17 January 2022
Let the public know with a letter to the editor. For details, see

Your Businesses

Your People

Tony and Jeff Whittemore head for Montreal.

Film premieres pony tale: When 2 boys went to Montreal

Watch 'Pony Boys' on Monday, Oct. 3 (changed from Sept. 27), a New York Times' Op-Doc Tony and Jeff Whittemore head for Montreal. / 1967 family photo UPDATED Sept. 26: Spy Pond Productions of Arlington has announced that the film directed by Eric Stange has been acquired by The New York Times…
Sue and Jeff Thompson

Couple stays upbeat despite worsening health challenges

Sue and Jeff Thompson face trials, keep smiling. UPDATED Oct. 1: On July 19 it was one year since Jeff Thompson was diagnosed with ALS, and during that time his condition has worsened. But he and his wife, Sue, have learned some important lessons: Be prepared before the next thing happens so you’re…

Housing Authority

FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below


Support YourArlington

An informed Arlington
keeps democracy alive

Why we are your news source >>

Donate Button

YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Your contributions are tax-deductible.

Your Arts

Your Events

Your Police, Fire

Your Democracy

Your Housing

Site Partners