It is safe to say that you probably remember taking standardized tests in school. In Colorado, there was the CSAP, also known as the Colorado Student Assessment Program. During these types of tests, a school will usually suspend its usual activities and spend a few days with their students taking these tests. It was a stressful time for students, only slightly made better by the snacks handed out by teacher’s aides and the few minutes of silent reading time you got if you finished a section early. From a young age, however, kids somehow knew to be stressed out by the test. It felt a little scary and very important. It felt this way for teachers, too, whose skill as an educator was highly scrutinized based on the way their students tested. Due to the fact that this type of testing continued to stress children out through the years, parents began opting their children out of the test. While this seems like it might be a good choice from a mental health perspective, it is actually not a great move in the long run.
Why is that, you might ask? Standardized testing is important because it is what gives schools and school districts the data they need to measure and track their progress. This data is what can get them more funding, grant money, and other extra opportunities. It will also help those who do education advocacy to ask for specialized aid if certain schools or school districts are underperforming or struggling. When large amounts of children opt out of testing, however, it skews the results greatly and therefore does not provide reliable data. For teachers, this is problem because it skews or in some cases, makes their data irrelevant. This can look bad on their record and make it different for them to work at other schools or other school districts. In the realms of grant money and funding, schools and school districts must provide reliable data in order to qualify. As you have probably figured out, schools with lots of children opting out are generally not eligible for funding that they normally should have gotten or would have qualified for under other circumstances.
Though rating schools and going through standards is tough for all involved, it is actually a huge help in making sure that education leaders are able to see where improvements need to be made and work to make those happen. From an education advocacy perspective, long term vision and strategic planning is important because it helps put into place ways for schools to improve over the years. The only way to show improvement over the years is through measurable data, and in order to get this data, students need to be taking standardized tests.
Many business leaders in the community work together to advocate for education because they know that education is the foundation of the growth and development of the children in our community. They also know that when these children get a superior education, they become an educated and dynamic workforce who later become the business leaders of tomorrow.