High school exit exams in Mississippi have been up for debate about whether they exist or not and now the MDE is looking for clarification.
State Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright says that they will be taking a look through a much broader scope than just Exit exams as she said there is some confusion on the issue with teachers not understanding what the state/federal requirements are on end of course assessment and what their school district gets to decide.
“I think this is a great time to clear the air and to shed light on what exactly is required, what’s not required, and are we really doing children a justice because if we are over-testing, we are taking away time from instruction,” Wright said.
However, Representative Tom Miles who tried to pass legislation to end the requirement of high school exit exams in Mississippi said the MDE is still requiring school districts to give end of course assessments.
“We have put so much stress on the school districts to perform at a certain level and they have to give the tests to meet the requirements,” Miles said. “That’s kind of passing the buck there. This is being fed down from the top, from MDE to the school districts for them to reach benchmarks and I just think some of the comments are just disingenuous when it’s actually coming from something that the MDE is requiring to our school districts as a whole.”
Miles added that he hopes the task force will be able to come up with a plan to set guidelines for the schools.
“My colleagues and I who have been calling for an end to these tests will be watching closely to see who all is invited to the table for this discussion,” Miles said. “It doesn’t have to be me at the table, but if it doesn’t include classroom teachers, concerned parents, administrators who have seen first-hand the detrimental outcomes of this expensive system, then we will know it’s not a sincere effort to help. If everyone is invited to participate, and their views and ideas are taken seriously, then I believe we’ll be able to do what’s right for our students. My prediction is that the system will be dismantled. We can sure use that $30 million on other, more important things, for our schools.”
Wright added that Senate Education chairman Grey Tollison and House Education Chair Richard Bennett will be on the task force and that they will also reach out to parents, students, and teachers for feedback on the exit exams and whether they should be incorporated into students’ final grades.
“We felt this was a good time to bring everybody to the table, and to really get a broad perspective,” Wright said. “We are looking at not only what is used and the amount of it, but we also want to ensure that there is a quality to the assessment because we want to make sure that the assessments that are being used are aligned to our standards because that is what teachers are teaching.”
In a post to social media Miles called for the end of exit exams saying “#LetTheTeachersTeach.”
The post received a great deal of attention with people from both sides of the issue arguing their points of whether the state should mandate testing.
“Apparently, the destructive effects of these tests on our students and teachers – and families — are finally being addressed by the Department,” Miles said. “My hope is that this will not be just another dog and pony show, but an effort to really understand how much this idea has hurt our students’ opportunity for a well-rounded, healthy education.”