Schools survey shows parents want less standardized testing

Schools survey shows parents want less standardized testing

LINCOLN – When the 500 responses from a parent survey for Lincoln Public Schools, sent out Dec. 2, were tallied, a recurring theme became clear: a request for less standardized testing.

Supt. Georgia Fortunato anticipates more discussion about these assessments, mentioning Massachusetts’ recent switch to another version of standardized testing. While PARCC is here for now, she said, changes could be made in the future on a statewide level.

Survey results show 38 percent of households found student performance on standardized tests to be somewhat important in determining the quality of a school, while just 15 percent said it was very important and 32 percent of parents ranked it as important. The survey also asked parents how important test scores are when choosing a school for their children to attend; these results were nearly identical.

Fortunato said like many others in education, she doesn’t want to “over-test children,” and wants to make sure assessments can be done “in a wide variety of arenas.”

“I definitely heard loud and clear that some of the state assessments at times can be daunting for kids, and there has to be a happy medium. The issue for us is that it is required of all students in Rhode Island to take standardized assessments unless they opt out,” she told The Breeze.

As noted previously in The Breeze, results showed that 51 percent of Lincoln public school students in grades 3 through 10 met or exceeded expectations in literacy exams and 35 percent of pupils met or surpassed standards in mathematics on the 2015 PARCC assessment.

Overall, Fortunato said, she was pleased with the results of the survey, which asked parents to rate the overall quality of the teaching staff of schools, how well schools are preparing students for future success and how strongly parents felt expectations for their children were appropriately high within the school system.

About 50 percent of results showed parents were satisfied with these components of the survey, while more than 30 percent said they were very satisfied. Fifty-eight percent of parents who took the survey strongly agreed that expectations for their children were appropriately high, while 36 percent agreed and few disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Fortunato said the survey results validated much of what schools are doing already, but there’s always room to improve. Parents also wanted to see different approaches to teaching, results show, which are ongoing methods that are already happening in classrooms, Fortunato said.

“In Lincoln, we really take pride in the fact that the teachers do an outstanding job meeting students’ needs and differentiating instruction,” Fortunato said.

She blames disconnect in communication between students’ homes and schools for parents not being aware this is indeed happening in the classroom, and hopes to form stronger communication to address this.

Survey participants checked off which form of communication they prefer to get updates with, and the majority said email response. Fortunato said the communications subcommittee is working on “a whole host of things,” including school department policies and recommendations for the School Committee. Communicating effectively with families, Fortunato said, is vital to improving schools.

The Lincoln Public Schools’ website will get an audit, making it easier to follow. Currently, Fortunato said, the site isn’t as easy to navigate as it should be.

With the end of the calendar year around the corner, Fortunato said she’s happy both the Ferguson Field and roof at Lonsdale Elementary School are complete, and renovations to Lincoln High School will become part of town-wide discussions through future public hearings. She, like many of the parents who took the survey, said an update to LHS is “a long time coming.”

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