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Don't Hate Tests: Testing plays a key role in education, if done right

Posted by New Leaders Council 4 Admin on September 24, 2015 at 9:29 PM

Originally published on U.S. New and World Report on September 23 by Ulrich Boser.

When I sat in on biology professor Jennifer Doherty's course at the University of Washington, it was hard to miss all the quizzes. At one point, Doherty asked the class to answer a quiz using a clicker, a small device that allowed the students to submit their answers via radio waves. Other times, Doherty would ask the students to pair up and then she'd ask their small group for an answer. Doherty would also simply randomly call on students, asking things like, "How do plants get their food if not from the soil?"

Students – and many parents – have all sorts of reasons to hate testing, whether it's a classroom quiz about plants or a high-stakes graduate school exam. After all, exams can spark cheating, waste valuable instructional time and dominate the curriculum.

But tests also play a key role in education. In fact, assessments can often work to improve teaching and learning, as a growing number of experts have argued, and as states roll out the Common Core standards, schools and districts should do more to support better testing practices and programs that align to the new standards.

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