Wake Ed

Wake County school board member calls excessive testing 'abuse' of students

Are North Carolina’s public schools overly testing students to the point where it can be considered “abuse?”

That’s what Wake County school board member Bill Fletcher charged on Monday as the board’s government relations committee discussed what items to lobby state legislators on this year. Fletcher argued that cutting back on the amount of mandatory state testing should be one of the changes requested during the General Assembly’s short session.

“It’s gone beyond high-stakes testing,” Fletcher said. “It’s gone to testing or die. For third-graders to be nauseous in their classrooms at this time of year because of an end-of-grade test, if they don’t pass it they’ve got to go to summer school, etc., etc., etc. It’s gone beyond accountability into abuse. It somehow needs to be reined back.”

The state’s end-of-grade and end-of-course exams are just some of the tests that students are given annually. There are a number of other state-mandated assessments required for Read-To-Achieve and to evaluate teacher performance.

“We’re perverting education from teaching and learning into becoming expert test taking,” Fletcher also said. “Somehow we’ve got to bring balance back to what education is about. It’s not completely about an end-of-grade test, a one-day snapshot.”

But Fletcher says it’s not right to blame Common Core, saying “there was an abundance of testing” prior to the new state standards.

Other school board members echoed Fletcher’s concerns about excessive testing, including Keith Sutton, the chairman of the committee. But Sutton said it’s more of an issue to pursue next year when the General Assembly has the long session.