Council of the Great City Schools releases new study on student assessment

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other education leaders joined a panel discussion today on student assessments hosted by the Council of the Great City Schools at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event featured the release of the Council’s report, Student Testing in America's Great City Schools: Where Do We Go From Here? - a two-year study on the frequency of student assessments. The Council of the Great City Schools, comprised of superintendents and school board members from the nation’s urban public school system, conducted this study to collect data on how much testing actually goes on in America’s public schools and how the results are used.

Based on the Council’s survey of member districts, analysis of district testing calendars, interviews, and its review and analysis of federal, state and locally mandated assessments, the study found:

  • In the 2014-15 school year, 401 unique tests were administered across subjects in the 66 Great City School systems.
  • Students in the 66 districts were required to take an average of 112.3 tests between pre-K and grade 12. (This number does not include optional tests, diagnostic tests for students with disabilities or English learners, school-developed or required tests, or teacher designed or developed tests).
  • Urban school districts have more tests designed for diagnostic purposes than any other use, while having the fewest tests in place for purposes of international comparisons.
  • Findings suggest that some tests are not well aligned to each other, are not specifically aligned with college-or career-ready standards, and often do not assess student mastery of any specific content.

During the Council of the Great City Schools panel discussion, Secretary Duncan and John King, Deputy Secretary of Education, focused their remarks on the Council’s report and ED Department’s newly released “Testing Action Plan,” which proposes strategic plans for improving assessments “to ensure that tests are fair, are of high quality, take up the minimum necessary time, and reflect the expectation that students will be prepared for success in college and careers.”

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