Assessment Opinion

Follow-Up: A Call for Reading-Test Reform

By Rebecca Schmidt — November 22, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Rebecca Schmidt

I agree with many of the comments saying that our students are over-tested. Yes, 16 days of testing each year is far too many, and too many resources are devoted to testing at the expense of more important ones in elementary school.

However, I have to disagree with the position that we discard assessment altogether. I view my students’ reading and math abilities as their human rights—and my job is to empower them to be productive changemakers in their communities by accessing these rights. Without assessment, I would not know if my teaching strategies were effective. I want to be clear that I am not dismissing reading assessments altogether—nor do I place much value in most of them. Instead, I would like meaningful assessments for monitoring students’ learning through the year to formally indicate progress in the eyes of D.C. Public Schools and the rest of the country.

For example, at the beginning of the year we test our students’ reading ability using DIBELS (fluency; how many words a student can read in one minute) and TRC (a combination of fluency and comprehension), which results in a reading level based on Fountas and Pinnell’s system. We continue to collect these data throughout the school year—more frequently for the students below grade level, less so for those who are at or above grade level—and use this information to plan our teaching with guided reading groups and lessons based on the Continuum of Literacy Learning. My students celebrate their progress—and they make great progress—but unfortunately none of it “counts” outside of our classroom.

A far more helpful reading-assessment method would be a measure of progress from beginning to end of year, such as the TRC tests, or a test I’ve heard about (but never seen in person) called the MAP: Measures of Academic Progress. Similar to the GRE, the MAP is computerized and adapts to a student’s answers as they take the test by giving harder questions as the student answers correctly and easier ones if the student answers incorrectly.

If our children are to be considered leaders in their community, country, and throughout the rest of the world, we educators have a critical job to ensure they are developing literacy and numeracy skills and knowledge. We can’t waste our time (or our students’) with meaningless assessment.

The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

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

Assessment Spotlight Spotlight on Assessment in 2021
In this Spotlight, review newest assessment scores, see how districts will catch up with their supports for disabled students, plus more.
Assessment 'Nation's Report Card' Has a New Reading Framework, After a Drawn-Out Battle Over Equity
The new framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress will guide development of the 2026 reading test.
10 min read
results 925693186 02
Assessment Opinion Q&A Collections: Assessment
Scores of educators share commentaries on the use of assessments in schools.
5 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Assessment Standardized Tests Could Be in Jeopardy in Wake of Biden Decisions, Experts Say
Has the Biden administration shored up statewide tests this year only to risk undermining long-term public backing for them?
6 min read
Image of a test sheet.