I recently visited two campuses that are arguably doing a number of things well and are experiencing improved student performance. But sometimes habit and lack of confidence trip up even the most proactive educators. Case in point. For three straight days, these two campuses gave benchmark tests to their students. Which means that instruction shut down for three straight days. However both of these campuses are in a district that administers regular (every 6 to 9 weeks) common assessments and both campuses administer their own three-week common assessments. I asked both principals if they thought that the benchmark tests would provide any information that was not already provided by the assessments that they already administer. The answer from both of them was, “Not really.” So I asked them why they were administering the benchmarks. Both said that the staff felt it was important to see how the students would perform on a longer test. I won’t say that this is completely wrong. However, there is no question that both campuses paid a high instructional price for information that is probably redundant. Every minute spent testing is a minute subtracted from instruction. Therefore, you must weigh the value of the information gleaned against the value of instruction lost. If the value of the information is negligible or redundant, don’t test; teach. And just because everyone else is taking long tests (and then not adjusting) doesn’t make it a good idea. Think. Vote. Achieve. Your turn…

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