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Teachers Say Missouri Has 'Too Much' Testing

A new survey of teachers in Missouri shows, by and large, educators in the state still believe there is “too much” standardized testing of their students.

The Missouri State Teachers’ Association, which counts more than 45,000 teachers on its rolls, recently asked its members to take the organization’s first-ever survey specifically devoted to teachers’ experiences giving standardized tests.

“We wanted to give our teachers an outlet to voice their feelings and frustrations,” MSTA spokesperson Todd Fuller said.

More than 5,500 teachers responded to the survey and 65% of respondents, when asked to gauge the amount of tests their students took, chose “too much” as their answer.

“Hopefully it will serve as a starting point for DESE [the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] to begin looking at testing and how we do it in our state,” Fuller said.

Last year, DESE scaled back the amount of testing after originally planning for a full seven-hour slate of tests in grades 3-8 for 2014-2015. The department decided to give most grades shorter 30-minute assessments but kept the longer exams in grades 5 and 8 intact.

“This year was a big success,” DESE spokesperson Sarah Potter said.

The MSTA survey also showed teachers’ varying levels of frustration with technology used during testing. For the first time this year, all grade-level and end-of-course assessments tracked by the state were given to students on computers.

“Students hated the computer tests. May complained and wished they had pencil and paper,” commented one teacher on the MSTA survey. Written comments on the survey were kept anonymous.

Other teachers, though, admitted fewer technology-related stresses. 

“The students use Chromebooks everyday so they were used to them. We have practiced a lot with the online tools…so they were familiar with those,” commented another teacher.

For their part, DESE officials seem to want feedback about how testing went this year around the state, especially on issues of technology.

“For this being the first year that all grade-level assessments were given on computer, we only had very localized issues,” DESE spokesperson Potter said. “In the end, every school district [in the state] was able to test all their students.” 

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