With testing season upon us, the minds of students, parents, and educators are turning to the high-stakes standardized testing ushered in by the enactment of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) a decade and a half ago.  Debate around testing remains contentious, yet the opinions of the very people who these tests and their ensuing accountability systems were intended to benefit - students and their parents - have been woefully missing. This paper shares students’ and parents’ conflicted views about statewide tests, based on a YouGov survey of 704 parents of 4th-12th graders and their children.

The findings reveal that:

  • Fewer than half of parents say statewide standardized tests show how much their child has learned in school
  • Still, a majority of parents see some value in statewide tests
  • Lack of support for testing may impact student effort
  • A slim majority of parents and students discuss the test results with each other; even fewer discuss these with school personnel
  • Low-income and high-income parents share many similar views about standardized tests, although differences exist in understanding tests’ meaning and attitudes about test-taking
  • And more.

Our take on the above is that this is a moment in time - one that will likely not arise again for years or even decades - that should be capitalized on to build accountability systems that unite rather than divide. Policy makers, and the businesses that consult them and provide measurement tools and assessment instruments should use this transition period from NCLB/RTTP (Race to the Top) to ESSA to ensure that the voices and views of all stakeholders - including students and parents - are included in the development and communication of new accountability systems, in whole and in part.

We stress the need for communication because we know that stakeholders are conflicted over testing, as they both desire accountability and validation of what children are learning, yet must navigate the mixed messages they constantly receive surrounding testing.  All stakeholders deserve an accountability system that includes measures that are both understandable and meaningful. The only way to accomplish this is to ask and then listen to the needs, wants and opinions of these stakeholders.

To download YouGov’s white paper on students’ and parents’ views on standardized testing, please click below.


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