The U.S. Department of Education says that the correct number of standardized tests is 2% of instructional time.

In most districts, that would be about 20-24 hours of taking tests. Not prepping for them, just taking them.

That would be an increase in the amount of time now allocated in most places to standardized tests. Should children in grades 3-8 really sit for 20 hours of tests? Sounds nutty.

Peter Greene has a different idea. He says the correct number of standardized test is zero.

He writes:

Students need standardized tests like a fish needs a bicycle. Standardized tests are as essential to education as a mugging is essential to better financial health.

Is there a benefit to the child to be compared and ranked against the rest of the children in the country, to be part of the Great Sorting of children into winners and losers? No. Having such rankings and ratings may advance the agenda of other folks when it comes to writing policy and distributing money, but those benefits are for those folks– not the children. The mugger may benefit from mugging me, but it does not follow that I enjoy a benefit.

Are there standardized tests from which a classroom teacher can glean useful information? Sure– but those tests are best chosen to fit the needs and concerns of one particular teacher and one particular collection of students. A diagnostic test might help me with Chris, but there’s no reason to believe it would help me better understand Chris if it were given to every other student at the same time.

Read on.