Goshen schools questioned by parent group over frequency of student tests

A group of parents told the Goshen Schools board they feel their kids are given too many tests, and there isn't enough communication with parents.

Posted on June 24, 2014 at 7:41 a.m.

The pressure of near-constant testing and assessment is getting to be too much for some parents of Goshen students. 

Several parents visited Goshen Community Schools’ board meeting Monday night, June 23, to formally complain. 

Parent Emily Moore read a statement on behalf of the group: 

“We trust teachers to be advocates for our children’s needs but we are hearing over and over again that teachers feel disregarded when they challenge administration or fear losing their jobs for questioning things they are being asked to do... We feel that as parents we are compelled to be advocates for our children and our children’s teachers by starting a public discussion about these concerns.”

Parents also brought up concerns with a “one-size-fits-all” curriculum, teachers’ lack of freedom to use their professional judgement, and inadequate communication with parents. 

Moore noted that the group had met with assistant superintendent Alan Metcalfe and school board president Jane Troup about their concerns. 

They were told, she said, that changes are coming in the form of STEM curriculum at two elementary schools and that West Goshen could become an international baccalaureate school

“While these changes are a step in the right direction, we would still like to see Goshen Schools focus more on holistic curriculum and instruction for all students,” Moore said. 

Superintendent Diane Woodworth said after the meeting that the school corporation is re-evaluating the assessments students took over the year and taking into account teacher feedback. 

Tamra Ummel, assistant superintendent, said the school corporation started using a new 8-step data process last school year “that feels different to parents and to teachers than what we’ve done in the past.”

This data process includes a short test for students every three weeks to make sure they have learned standards that were taught in that time frame, Woodworth said. 

Those assessments are part of what’s being re-evaluated over the summer months, and changes could be made to make the tests shorter based on teacher recommendations. 

Woodworth noted that public education as a whole has entered into an “era of accountability” and the tests are a part of that. 

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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