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Thursday, April 25, 2024

The EduVerse with ProfessorJBA: Putting the pieces of high-stakes testing together for parents

Jason Allen
Jason Allen
Jason B. Allen is an educator and education reporter. He attended school in Atlanta, K-12, and is a graduate of the University of West Georgia and earned a B.A. in English and M.A. in special education.

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The 2022-23 school year is almost coming to an end across the Nation, and parents are still concerned about learning loss and what’s happening with meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of all students.

As a veteran educator, I am too.

Earlier this year, Amelia Park Harvey penned an article focusing on IPS test scores and the impact of pre- and post-pandemic academic levels.

The article highlights good news for parents, which reflects how Indianapolis Public Schools have been able to rebound from struggling test scores, but attempts to recover are still miles away from getting students on track to meet the 2025 goal.

I want parents to read this article and ask questions of their children’s teachers and school board members. The stress of high stakes testing in fact is not helping students to get the academic, social and emotional support they need, especially as we’re coming out from the last two years of the pandemic.

“In IPS last year, 22.3% of students in grades 3-8 were proficient in English, and 19.5% were proficient in math,” according to Harvey.

Data can be used to deter the success of students. For example, test data is always used in comparison to student race and academic abilities, which are broken down into categories of ability and socioeconomics.

As a special education teacher, I tell parents that public school districts investing in high stakes testing does more to place your child behind than it does to advance them. It’s factual if we look at the calendar days of school and the amount of days/months leading up to standardized/high stakes testing that is used for test prep.

This isn’t a call to action to remove high stakes testing. However, it is an invitation for parents who have children with physical, mental or other identified learning disorders to consider the importance and urgency of having your school districts:

A: Invest in co-teaching models

B: Invest in high stakes tutoring for students in and out of school

All students have experienced negative impacts to learning loss, but the traditional gaps in education between white students to Black and brown students are still very present and slowly closing.

According to the article on IPS recent testing data, Black and brown students’ proficiency in both math and language arts grew from last year. This is a success to be celebrated for students yet also a cautionary tale for parents. In comparison, the proficiency rates for white students grew significantly more than Black and brown students in the same district.

Unlike their white peers whose data from the ILEARN test in 2022 exceeded their 2019 results, Black and brown students in general education still have not recovered. As we track student progress according to data, even through the gains school districts in Indianapolis and across the Nation are making, Black and brown students are still disproportionately failed and left behind. 

Putting together the pieces of high stakes testing for parents means going beyond the annual test prep workshop and strategies shared for testing and actually impacting teaching and learning through improved teacher preparation: the investment in whole school co-teaching models and continual improved methods of teaching reading.

Contact Indy Kids Winning reporter Jason B. Allen at jasona@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @ProfessorJBA.

Jason’s work is supported through a partnership between Indy Kids Winning and the Indianapolis Recorder. Visit indykidswinning.com to learn more. For more news courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here. You can also check out the Indiana Minority Business Magazine by clicking here.

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