South Carolina was already moving to reduce the number of standardized tests students have to take, even before President Barack Obama called for a reduction. The president said over the weekend, “Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble.”
He called for the reduction after a nationwide study of large, urban school districts found that students take an average of 112 standardized tests from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. In the districts studied, the average 8th grader spent 2.3 percent of his time on standardized tests. The president is calling for that to be capped at 2 percent. Students spend between 20 and 25 hours a year on standardized tests, and that’s just taking the test, not including class time spent preparing for the tests or time spent on regular class quizzes and tests.
South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman says reducing standardized testing is something the state already had in the works. “Our waiver that we sent to the United States Department of Education, we have already asked for less testing and proposed that. So in January, we’ll be sending a proposal to them, and it will be doing just the amount of testing that we’re required to do and not beyond that.”
Palmetto State Teachers Association executive director Kathy Maness says, “For years, teachers and parents and students have said that we do too much testing, and having to do all this testing has taken a lot of the joy out of teachers doing their craft, and being able to really teach and students learn because we are concentrating too much on standardized testing.”
Spearman says an example of where testing might be reduced is social studies. The federal government requires a standardized test at least once in grades 3 through 8, but South Carolina has been giving a standardized social studies test every year.
Courtney Morales, a mother of two sons in high school in Columbia, says, “My son has told me that they don’t really have enough quality time to learn all they have to learn, such as in Geometry class, and they’re always pushing the teachers to do testing.”
Her son Brandon, a junior, says, “I think decreasing it will definitely give students more time in class.”