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Department of Education to examine testing of Mississippi students

Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News

Are Mississippi students tested too often? Are the tests achieving their desired outcomes? These questions and more will be posed and potentially answered by the Department of Education’s first-ever Student Testing Task Force.

In a news release, Dr. Carey Wright announced that she will convene the task force to examine current student testing on the state and local school district levels and to determine the best practices for monitoring student progress in meeting grade-level and subject area learning goals.

The task force will meet throughout the summer and will consist of a “diverse group of stakeholders representing educators, legislators, parents, school board members and students” from all across Mississippi.

Dr. Wright says that this is all about addressing concerns and ensuring that students are being properly prepared for the next step in their education.

“We have heard concerns from parents, lawmakers and educators about the amount of testing on the state and district levels and the time spent on test preparation in schools. We believe that through the work of the task force we can come up with reasonable recommendations that will address these concerns while ensuring accountability among schools and districts to prepare our students for their next step, whether it’s the next grade, the workforce, military or college,” Wright said.

Chairmen of both the Senate and House Education Committees, Sen. Gray Tollison and Rep. Richard Bennett will also serve on the committee. During the 2018 legislative session, lawmakers were unable to pass a new funding formula for public education, but it is expected to be back up for debate in 2019.

A list of goals for the task force was outlined in the release from the MDE.

“The goals of the task force are:

  • to determine the types, quality and amount of tests students take on the state and district level;
  • to provide recommendations on ways to ensure student testing is streamlined but measures the learning goals designed by Mississippi teachers; and
  • to discover and recommend best practices for student testing on the state and district level.”

Also included was a note referencing a report recently released by Mississippi First, whose mission statement reads “transformative policy solutions ensuring educational excellence for every Mississippi child.” The report included the findings of a study that “found an array of testing preparation practices in certain school districts studied” and gave the MDE recommendations on how to proceed. The task force will examine these recommendations during their meetings.

At the conclusion of the year, the task force will produce a report on its findings and make recommendations of their own.

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