SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, is sharing some of the solutions and innovations to our nation’s education challenges that were presented to the U.S. Department of Education during their recent stop in Springfield, which was part of Secretary Cardona’s Back to School: Raise the Bar national bus tour.
“From my experience as a teacher and a lawmaker focused on expanding opportunities for our students, I was very excited to join a conversation with federal policymakers on strengthening our schools,” said Scherer. “We cannot shortchange our students by neglecting critical instruction in favor of teaching to a test. While a test may measure a student’s ability on one day, it is a poor indication of the knowledge acquired by a pupil.”
Scherer, a former teacher, voiced her concerns on the state of education in an effort to give the federal government the feedback it needs to adjust current policy. Scherer hopes to see a deviation from the trend of overreliance on standardized tests and a pivot back to a renewed focus on reading and writing skills, STEM fields and career readiness, and opportunities for cultural, artistic and creative growth.
Scherer’s perspectives are not only informed by her experiences as an educator but by the National Education Association and other organizations that have decried standardized tests as poor indicators of a student’s ability. Additionally, Scherer also says that our K-12 institutions should follow the higher-ed trend of eschewing standardized tests in favor of other forms of evaluation. Instead of the one-size-fits-all approach of a test, Scherer hopes to see more performance-based assessments (PBA). During a PBA, a student demonstrates their knowledge, often in front of their peers and teacher. This more holistic approach to testing would be less stressful for the test taker and a learning experience for any other students present.
“The rise in reliance on standardized testing coincides with the drop in our students’ individual academic achievement,” said Scherer. “The emphasis on testing is not making our children smarter or better prepared for anything. Instead, its high-stakes nature contributes to burnout for teachers and poorer outcomes for students. We must develop a better way to assess performance and prepare the next generation of Americans for the future.