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Some educators question movement to opt out of standardized tests

By Mary Richards | Posted - Mar 20th, 2013 @ 8:21am



SALT LAKE CITY — As students prepare for the spring round of standardized tests, some parents and educators question how effective those tests are in evaluating progress.

A growing number of parents and educators are fighting against standardized tests across the country and want to opt out.

However, Utah Vally University behavioral science professor Russell Warne said tests are an important part of the evaluating process. While some complain standardized tests aren't fair, Warne reiterated it's the best way educators have found to evaluate student growth.

"When you compare all the methods of evaluating a child, the standardized test is the cheapest, most efficient, and most fair way of evaluating a child," he said. "This has been true since the 1920s."

Groups like FairTest and Parents and Kids Against Standardized Testing rally behind the idea that too much time and emphasis is spent on testing and that the scores are often meaningless.


They are just one indicator of how a child is doing in school, and should be used with other indicators like a child's grades, like teacher evaluations, and should not be used as the sole basis of making any decision about a child's education.

–Russell Warne, Utah Vally University behavioral science professor


FairTest cites standardized testing being used to evaluate educators and principals rather than students as one of the big flaws with the process.

"To win federal Race to the Top grants or waivers from No Child Left Behind, most states have adopted teacher and principal evaluation systems based largely on student test scores," according to the website. "Many educators have resisted these unproven policies."

While Warne said preparing for standardized tests is important, he said the government might claim tests are used for one thing, when really they're used for another.

"Standardized tests can be an extremely powerful tool when used properly. Some improper uses are enshrined in federal law," he said. "These tests are not designed to measure teacher quality, they are not designed to measure school quality, yet that's what the Feds tell us we have to use them for."

Some parents may decide to opt out of standardized testing but Warne recommended that parents continue to put their kids through the tests, as they're only one part of big spectrum of evaluation.

"They are not infallible instruments that evaluate a student or judge them as a person or their worth as a human being," he said. "They are just one indicator of how a child is doing in school, and should be used with other indicators like a child's grades, like teacher evaluations, and should not be used as the sole basis of making any decision about a child's education."

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