First Posted: 3/31/2009
Surry Countys two representatives to the state House of Representatives, 90th District Rep. Sarah Stevens and 92nd District Rep. Darrell McCormick, have introduced a bill which would place a two-year ban on state-required standardized testing in public schools.
Their reasoning, at first glance, would seem to be sound. With state-mandated and federal-mandated testing, it sometimes might seem as if the school systems put as much time and effort into testing as they do into teaching.
The two representatives have proposed the ban, at least in part, to limit classroom time used for testing and to save money.
It sounds nice to be able to say teachers can use that heretofore required testing time teaching, and the mantra of it will save money seems to be behind every General Assembly proposal in these tight economic times.
However, those in the know the professionals who are paid to implement state and federal education policy say the bill would do little, if anything, on either count.
Dr. Ashley Hinson, superintendent of Surry County Schools, was quite clear in his reaction to the bill.
We feel it would be counterproductive to what we have accomplished for children if we minimize the testing program to the extent requested by the current legislation, he said. Hinson said the current testing system in North Carolina has prompted school systems to be more accountable for how they do their job of educating youth, and accountability, he said, is a good thing.
Dr. Darrin Hartness, superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools, went on to say that if this bill were to pass, most of the standardized tests in use would still be required under federal legislation, thus the cost savings would be minimal at best.
He said the state testing system is under review and in the midst of an overhaul to make it more effective, and he would like to see that process play out.
Hartness and Hinson, two superintendents who have been recognized on a number of occasions for their effective leadership in the school systems, both agree that this legislation is bad for the school systems.
They are the professionals, and while that is never an excuse to blindly follow someones lead, in this case they seem to have the knowledge base and successful record to suggest we follow their lead on this issue.
We would suggest that our representatives, Stevens and McCormick, do the same and withdraw their support from this bill. At the very least, if they are bound and determined to try and bring about change in the state standardized testing program, we ask that they work with the education professionals in their district to craft such a proposal.