From the Editor: Testing stress

The other day I received an email from my son’s middle school. As spring testing approached, the email said, school officials were noticing signs of stress and test anxiety among the students. To help them deal with this stress, the school was offering to teach relaxation, stress reduction techniques, and mindfulness.

I’m a big proponent of mindfulness, and I think it’s wonderful that the students are going to learn about it. But I can’t help but wonder whether these responses to testing will be considered an education relic in a decade or so.

However, I noticed a common thread among them: They have school leaders and administrators who encourage and expect creativity and innovation in their schools.

Testing as we know it—the high-stakes standardized tests that are used as the only measure of success—is changing. In Senior Editor Del Stover’s cover story, “The Future of Testing,” he looks at how the federal Every Students Succeeds Act is a catalyst for change in the testing world. Gone are the old No Child Left Behind Act's flawed accountability model.

States and school boards can now come up with more nuanced approaches to accountability, including portfolios and growth models. District leaders and educators now are free to find a more balanced and fair way to find out how their students are learning.

In this issue, we are pleased to feature an article by W. James Popham, emeritus professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the author of more than 20 books about testing and assessment. In “Understanding the Test,” he argues for professionals to develop a deeper expertise to help school board members, teachers, and administrators interpret and make decisions based on test results.

Until next issue...

Kathleen Vail

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