January 28, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Fading Away?

Students in Wichita, Kan., may take more state tests in the near future—and fewer local ones. Winston C. Brooks, the superintendent of the 49,000-student school system, this month proposed eliminating the district’s local benchmark- assessment program starting next fall to save money and scale back test-taking.

“We’re in a budget crisis, like everybody else,” he said last week. “We’re right now planning to cut $9 million out of our $400 million budget.”

The local tests, given in reading, writing, and mathematics in grades 2, 5, 8, and 10, cost about $1 million a year to administer, he said. That’s on top of new reading and math tests in grades 3-8 and high school that the state plans to phase in by 2005-06 to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

“With our state assessment plan, we will almost triple the number of assessments that our youngsters will be taking,” said Mr. Brooks. “You get to the point where you say, ‘Hey, school’s about a lot more other things than just testing kids to death.’”

Mr. Brooks said when the district set up its testing program a decade ago, the state tests were less rigorous than they are today. “Our state assessment program has improved tremendously.”

Even so, he acknowledged, there are some advantages to the local assessments, which are used to gauge students’ performance against district standards and identify youngsters who need help.

One big difference: Wichita gives its tests in the early spring and has results back before students leave school for the summer. State test results aren’t released until the following October.

The superintendent’s proposal to drop the local exams must be approved by the school board as part of its pending budget deliberations.

Mr. Brooks predicts that, given the current focus on state test results, districts’ own testing programs may go the way of the dodo bird.

“I think that we’re almost being forced to this decision, based on the federal legislation and the emphasis that’s being put on the state assessment,” he said. “I think local assessments around the country will eventually fade away, and that all of the emphasis will be about state assessments, because that’s where all the consequences are.”

Under the federal law, a school’s performance is judged primarily on how its students perform on state tests in reading and math.

Lynn Olson

A version of this article appeared in the January 28, 2004 edition of Education Week


Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
STEM Fusion: Empowering K-12 Education through Interdisciplinary Integration
Join our webinar to learn how integrating STEM with other subjects can revolutionize K-12 education & prepare students for the future.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way
School & District Management Webinar How Pensions Work: Why It Matters for K-12 Education
Panelists explain the fundamentals of teacher pension finances — how they are paid for, what drives their costs, and their impact on K-12 education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: June 12, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 29, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 8, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read