A resolution urging the development of methods to minimize excessive testing was passed out of the House Education Committee Tuesday with a favorable recommendation.
HCR 7 – Concurrent Resolution Urging Development of Methods to Minimize Excessive Testing and its Negative Impact on the Schoolchildren of Utah, which is sponsored by Representative Marie Poulson (Democrat – Salt Lake City), moved forward on a 9-1 vote with Representative Dan McCay (Republican – Riverton) providing the sole dissenting vote.
The resolution expresses support for educators throughout the state who strive to minimize excessive testing and its negative effects on schoolchildren. It also urges the Utah State Board of Education, with the participation of parents and teachers, to study testing methods and protocols that will “minimize testing and maximize the integration of testing into an aligned curriculum.” Results of the study would then be reported to the Education Interim Committee in September.
“This resolution is not meant to disparage state and local school boards who, with good intentions, have tried to provide accountability in our schools. It is, however, the combination of federal, state, and local tests that seem to have parents concerned and educators worried that they have become excessive,” said Poulson, a retired high school English and History teacher.
Poulson decided to bring the issue forward after being urged to do so by several constituents. “I don’t think there’s an issue I’ve heard more about in the last year than this one and it seems like everywhere I go, whether it’s standing in line at the grocery store or at Costco, I’m hearing concerns from parents and grandparents, educators in my district, and also educators, parents, and grandparents from all over the state.”
Peter Cannon, a former Davis School Board member, took offense at the mention of “rote memorization” in the resolution. “There are very respected educators who have written books on the value of learning information and facts.” He believes that such language is inflammatory, and urged the committee to tweak the resolution to remove biased language and recongize the benefit of testing accountability to the consumers of education.
Tami Pyfer, education advisor to Governor Gary Herbert, commended the resolution. “What I like about this [resolution] is this approach to fix the problems, to actually look at what are the problems. Is it too many tests or is it the high stakes nature of the tests?”
Pyfer believes this is an important matter that needs to be addressed and the proposed resolution is a good starting point. “Let’s fix it. Let’s not just be the people that say ‘it’s bad, let’s throw [this] out and start again.'”