What Are Teachers' and School Leaders' Major Concerns About New K–12 State Tests?

The implementation of new consortia-based tests (Smarter Balanced and PARCC) has created concern among both educators and school leaders about increased test difficulty, score accuracy, technology, and educator readiness to prepare students for the new assessments. In this brief report, the authors used a survey to analyze educator and school leader beliefs and concerns about the new tests. The survey was conducted prior to the full administration of the consortia tests in the spring of 2015. Among the findings are that: 

• Most teachers expressed moderate or major concerns about test difficulty, low student performance on the tests, and test score accuracy for special needs students.

• Teachers with students taking Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests were more likely to be concerned about testing issues than teachers with students taking other state tests.

• Teachers at low-income schools were more likely to be concerned about testing issues, particularly for their English language arts state tests, than teachers in other schools. 

Content Comments 

The purposes of this resource are well defined and met through the use of high quality methodology. The authors used a randomized sample of educators and leaders to answer survey questions, further increasing the rigor and fairness of their methods. It is important to note that this survey, as the authors explain, was conducted just prior to the administration of the new consortia-based assessments (PARCC and Smarter Balanced). Consequently, subsequent surveys in future years may produce substantially different results once educators and administrators become familiar with the new assessments. Communications quality is excellent. The writing is concise, easy to understand, and lacks bias. Simple graphs increase the potential for understanding and use by school leaders and policymakers. Utility should be very high, especially because the survey will be conducted in future years, providing a longitudinal analysis. Although evidence of effectiveness is unknown, the high overall quality across other criteria suggests a positive impact on learning.