To the Editor:
In response to Bill Tucker’s “The Truth About Testing Costs” (Commentary, Oct. 12, 2011): Although the analysis in this essay indicates a small cost per student for standardized testing, there are hidden costs which were not considered. These expenditures will not always translate into actual dollars, but will affect overall job performance of school personnel. We need to take a deeper look into what actually occurs as far as monies spent and time afforded because of testing.
Taking into account the dollar amount cited per student for each state, I guess the piece included the expense of the testing company that develops and scores the examination, shipping of materials to and from the school, state-personnel salaries and time responsible for managing the process, and other incidentals. But what about the other factors like purchasing test-prep books and resources or the stipends paid to school and district test coordinators to check on materials, develop security plans, and prevent cheating or irregularities? How about the students requiring small-group administration or needing scribes? Extra teachers need to be assigned, causing other students to miss instruction during testing time.
There is no doubt that testing has taken on a life of its own, and that the use of money and our most precious commodity, time, has been compromised.
Whether it is money being spent directly for testing or hidden costs in terms of lost instruction and purchases of test-prep books rather than resources for science and social studies, students are losing out. I wonder whether testing truly provides a clear picture of student performance and teacher accountability, considering the pressure to cheat. I believe the dollar expenditure is understated. Budget and time could be better allocated so student learning is measured accurately and continues in a quality way.
East Brook Elementary School
Park Ridge, N.J.
A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2011 edition of Education Week as Testing-Costs Essay Overlooked Other Costs