Missouri students are over-tested, according to MSTA survey

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Teacher's Association released results from a survey about computer-based standardized testing Wednesday. 

The MSTA serves more than 45,000 members across the state of Missouri, including classroom teachers, librarians and bus drivers. MSTA sent the survey to about 35,000 members, and more than 5,700 responded. The survey results show more than 64 percent of responders reported that Missouri uses standardized testing too much.

Sarah Potter is the communication coordinator for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and said the state is only administering what it is required to.

"At the state level we have eliminated some tests," Potter said. "We're doing just the minimum of what we need to do to be in compliance with the federal government "

Aurora Meyer is an MSTA spokesperson and said the survey was sent to every MSTA member with a valid email address.

"This is one of the greatest responses we've ever had for one of our surveys across the state," Meyer said. 

Meyer said the purpose of the survey was to get feedback on the first year of computerized standardized testing. Meyer said many members said tools available on the test distracted many of the testers.

"You could highlight in some areas but not in others," Meyer said. "And we had many members say that their students just went through and clicked answers without working out the problems."

Meyer also said some members felt the test stressed their students.

"We had everyone from school nurses saying that kids were getting headaches from staring at the computer screens for so long. It was just a lot for students this year."

Potter said there will always be issues involving state testing.

"I mean we've heard students say their hands would get tired with the paper and pencil test," Potter said. "There's always challenges to anyway that you give a test."

Meyer said state testing affected more than half of MSTA's members this past school year. Members were able to give additional feedback in addition to the survey.

"Many of our members gave us additional feedback saying that their students felt stressed," Meyer said. "We had everyone from school nurses saying that kids were getting headaches from staring at the computer screen for so long. It was just a lot for students this year."

Meyer said many MSTA members thought that in order for testing to be an accurate reflection of growth, the state needs to administer tests at the beginning, middle and end of the school year.

"However, that would just add more testing onto the student, and so a better suggestion that many of our members had was to have people come in from organizations to observe the classroom at different periods of time throughout the year," Meyer said. 

Potter said the state will look at some of the survey's issues at the next state board meeting.

"I just think it's something we're all looking at at the state level in combination with their education partners," Potter said.

 

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