testing on computer

The answer is “probably not”. No one within the Seattle Public School District, besides School Board Director Sue Peters, seems to be concerned or be able to accurately report to the board the number of tests that our students take let alone the time it takes away from a regular school day to administer the standardized tests.

Below are the tests that your students take. We have not even gotten to the cost of preparing for, setting up computers and IT for, teachers time for, librarians time for and library and computer time for providing these tests.

Here’s the skinny.

Micheal Tolley, who was asked by School Board Director Peters to provide the information on how  many  standardized testes were given to our students and the hours needed to complete the tests, was not completely forthcoming in the number of standardized tests administered or the time it takes for students to complete the tests. Another aspect of this testing is how many hours the library and/or computer lab is closed during the testing, this can be up to two months as teachers, parents and students can attest, or how many hours of class time is lost to shortened class schedules and late start times.

Buried in a memo that was provided to the school board, Tolley inaccurately portrays, and I am saying this in a most polite manner, a minimum amount of time taken to compete the tests as well as the number of tests. He says there are only a few tests given to our students but alas, there are more. Did he not think someone might notice eventually? I suppose that’s why it was buried in a memo.

Mr. Tolley, by the way, is a remnant of the Broad Foundation/Goodloe-Johnson era when our Broad superintendent brought with her from Charleston the Chief Financial Officer, “I’ll get back to you on that”, Don Kennedy and Michael Tolley to do her bidding in Seattle after leaving her superintendent position in Charleston. Tolley has been faithfully kowtowing to the ed reformers since then and continues even after Goodloe-Johnson was fired by the school board. I suppose old habits die hard.

To set the record straight, let’s see how many standardized tests your students are given and the number of times they are administered in a school year.

Kindergarten (Yes people, kindergarten)                                                                                                              



Teaching Strategies GOLD- Fall

Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA)-Spring

Kindergarten Assessment- Winter and Spring


First Grade


DRAFall, Winter and Spring


Second Grade



DRA – Fall and Spring

Amplify in selected schools*


Third Grade

DRA- Fall, Winter and Spring

SBAC-Reading and Writing

Reading and Math MSP

Beacon/Amplify (The Amplify contract is being continued in fifty schools but is not being expanded to additional schools.)


Fourth Grade


MSP- Reading, writing and math

DRA- Fall, Winter and Spring


Fifth Grade

MSP- Reading, math and science

DRA- Fall, Winter and Spring

CBA- Health and Fitness (PE)

CBA- Social Studies

Music- CPBA

Visual Arts CBA




Sixth Grade



MSP- Reading and math

Common Reading Assessment- Baseline and Mid-year

Common Writing Assessment- Baseline and mid-year


Seventh Grade

Common Reading Assessment- Baseline and Mid year

MSP- Reading, writing and math




Eighth Grade



MSP- Reading, math and Science

EOC- Biology, Geometry and Algebra

CBA- Health and Fitness

CBA- Social Studies

CBA- Visual Arts

Common Reading Assessment- Baseline and mid-year

Common Writing Assessment – Mid-year

 *I added Amplify to the second grade list because I just received a report that at least one school had to give the test to their second graders.

High School

Common Reading Assessment- Baseline and mid-year

Common Writing Assessment – Mid-year

CBA- Health and Fitness- 9th grade

Beacon/Amplify- 9th grade

Common Reading Assessment- 10th grade- Baseline and mid-year

ELA Exit exam- 10th grade

PSAT- 10th grade

SBAC –  11th grade

SAT- 11th grade

CBA- Social Studies- 12th grade Government


All high school grades:

Reading HSPE

Writing HSPE

CPBA- Music

CBA- Visual Arts

End Of Course (EOC) exam- Math and Science

College Math Placement Test


ELL Students



Teachers have opened up to me and others and shared the experiences that happened during the the SBAC testing period this year.

These are some of the highlights.

  • Testing labs and libraries were closed from March until June in some schools because of the testing.
  • There were computer crashes for various reasons so many students had to take the test over again after waiting for the IT problem to be fixed. They had to sit in their seats quietly while this happened.
  • Some students didn’t know how to use a mouse because they don’t have a computer at home.
  • The test sometimes took up to three hours for nine year olds. They could go to the bathroom but that was it. (Is this at all starting to sound inhumane?)
  • Students would give nonsense answers just to get through the tests which invalidates the test.
  • According to one teacher, one of their ELL students took over an hour to answer one question because they didn’t understand the term “product” in a math question.
  • Some schools are using tablets to take the SBAC as opposed to a PC which means the interface with the test can be entirely different.
  • Students have to navigate between three different windows during the test which means only those with the most sophisticated experiences on a computer will be able to successfully at least understand the question and how to provide an answer.

These reasons and others are why there has been such a high failure rate around the country with the SBAC and concomitant PARC test. They are not ready for prime time.

The worst of it is that the results of the SBAC will not be available until August at the earliest so teachers will not be able to use the information for their students, if they can understand what the numbers mean. Another issue is the students, teachers and parents will not have access to the questions or answers so of what value in all of this testing?

The SBAC has not been deemed reliable or valid. The SBAC Consortium has stated that the validity of the tests will only happen after the test is given and the results are in. That’s why there was so much pressure placed on parents and teachers to make sure the students took the test. They needed the results to validate the test. If more than 5% of the students opt out of the test, the test can not be deemed reliable or valid. That is using our students as the testing consortium’s guinea pigs.

Basically it’s millions of dollars down the drain. The money would have been better spent on more teachers for smaller class sizes, nurses in every school and guidance counselors for high school students, librarians in every school, counselors for troubled children and their families, after school enrichment programs that up to now are only available in schools that have PTA’s that can raise the money, tutoring… the list goes on.

This fall, ask your principal for a complete list of all the standardized tests that your student will take, how many weeks your library or computer lab will be closed because of it and how many late start days there will be or shortened class periods. The answer, if it is forthright, just might surprise you.

If your school gave standardized tests that are not listed above to a respective grade, please let me know and I will add it to the list.

I will leave you with this video.

Dora Taylor