House Committee on Education Rep. Justin H. Woodson, Chair Rep. Sam Satoru Kong, Vice Chair
Re: HB 2117 – Relating to Standardized Testing Hearing: Monday, February 12, 2018, 2:10 pm, Room 309
Dear Chair Woodson, Vice Chair Kong and Committee Members:
This testimony is in strong support for HB2117, relating to standardized testing. I am writing on behalf of Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i (PPS Hawai‘i), a non-profit organization focused on supporting and improving Hawaii’s public schools through family engagement. Our group emerged from the Furlough Friday crisis, and we currently have approximately 1,000 members statewide.
Our members have told us that the increased focus on standardized testing has had a negative influence on the educational experiences of their children. Although there may be one “official” test that students take, they often take multiple tests throughout the year to prepare for the standardized test.
Standardized tests are high stakes. Since they are used as the main criteria by which a school is judged to be succeeding or failing. Educators have been forced to increase their school’s scores to show they are doing a good job. Research indicates that the best way to increase children’s test scores it for students to become familiar with test-taking procedures. Thus, much time is spent on practice tests and on other drills. Homework is sometimes formatted to look like the test. Testing is pervasive and dominates the curriculum.
Test preparation takes time and energy, on the part of children and their teachers. This means that there is no longer time for students and their teachers to engage in creative, interactive, and meaningful activity that leads to true learning and development. When we think back to what has inspired all of us to learn and engage in school, it is not sitting for a test, but reading a book and discussing it with our teachers and classmates, working on a project of our choice, engaging in ideas, artwork, and music–all things that are now reduced or cut out of the curriculum because of the overemphasis on testing.
When PPS Hawai‘i surveyed members about their experiences with the public schools, parents said that the overemphasis on testing was one of their greatest concerns. In addition, they wanted more arts, music, and physical activity, which are related to time spent on testing.
Standardized testing is an equity issue because research indicates that the strongest predictor of a student’s standardized test score is their family’s income. The schools and teachers, who are spending the most time trying to increase test scores, are those serving communities who are struggling financially. These are communities who desperately need the arts, music, Hawaiian Studies, and other engaging learning activities! These are the very communities whose children are dropping out of school because it is boring and not meaningful to them, because they don’t feel that anyone cares. By decreasing an emphasis
on testing, educators in these communities can be freed to engage in more meaningful and effective educational activities with their students.
All students deserve a challenging curriculum that includes the arts, music, and activity that is relevant to their cultures and communities. We at PPS Hawai‘i urge your support of HB 2117 to make this happen.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Lois Yamauchi, PhD
President, Parents for Public Schools of Hawai’i