Moffat County teachers seek reduction in testing | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County teachers seek reduction in testing

Sandrock Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Catherine Matheson and third-grade teacher Julie Sperl display an example of the posters Moffat County Education Association members will carry with them in the Homecoming parade Friday, highlighting moments of student learning and success that aren't necessarily represented in test scores. MCEA is currently organizing to raise community awareness and dialogue about standardized testing in public schools.

— Members of Moffat County Education Association are joining forces with educators statewide to address the issue of too much testing in public schools.

The organization, which represents teachers from Moffat County School District, was one of six local chapters of Colorado Education Association to receive a $1,000 grant as part of the statewide Time to Learn, Time to Teach campaign.

"How can we get more time for our students to learn?," said Sandrock Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Catherine Matheson, who's in charge of organizing and membership for MCEA. "We're here for the kids, and… (testing is) taking so much of their educational time."

The association is embarking on an educational campaign to raise awareness and spur dialogue with community members about the challenges teachers and students face in the current testing environment.

"The elementary (level) is getting way over-assessed," said Julie Sperl, third-grade teacher at Sandrock and treasurer for MCEA.

Because most tests now require the use of a school's computer lab, first- through third-graders get little time with technology from February through May, Sperl said. Another problem lies in how long it takes for teachers to receive test scores, typically not until the fall semester of the following school year for tests taken in the spring.

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"You can't guide instruction with scores we get eight months later," Sperl said. "We're spending a whole lot of money for testing that we can't even use."

The grant from CEA was intended to help Moffat County educators get organized and reach out to parents and community members. MCEA used some of the funds to purchase t-shirts and buttons for members to have a more visible presence at public meetings.

"We went on a listening tour, asking what are the things that are most important to your community? And testing came up across the board, including in Craig," said CEA organizer Ali Cochran. "We're really focusing on engaging the community and getting as many voices to the table because that's where our solutions are going to be."

Last year, CEA helped pass a legislative bill that eliminates the PARCC test in 10th through 12th grades, streamlines testing for kindergarten through third-graders and reduces state-mandated testing in a student's kindergarten through 12th-grade career by nearly 40 hours.

MCEA will focus this year on organization and community outreach, as well as ensuring that teachers have the resources they need — both in terms of compensation and classroom resources and support — to retain quality teachers in Moffat County.

Association members will be participating in Friday's Homecoming parade holding posters that say "More than a score," with stories and student quotes representing student successes that can't be measured by testing.

"Those things that make you feel like your job has a purpose, that it's not just for a test score," Matheson said, citing the story of one student who proudly announced he wrote a sentence that day. "That's huge. We need to highlight those things."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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