The union representing teachers in Santa Fe wants teducation administrators and the public to take a new look at how much time standardized testing takes in the classroom.
At a Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education meeting last week, National Education Association Santa Fe President Grace Mayer said that at DeVargas Middle School, where she teaches art, the PARCC test took up 29 hours of instruction time away from teachers during the first phase of its testing earlier this month.
She also made clear that PARCC is just one of multiple standardized tests students are required to take in one school year.
"This is not an annual assessment," Mayer said. "This is annual assessments. There's multiple tests multiple times over the course of the year."
Mayer cited a recent op-ed in which state Education Secretary Hanna Skandera claims the opposite.
"I share our families concerns about time spent testing," Skandera writes in the op-ed. "Over the last several years, we have worked hard with our district leaders to reduce required state and federal testing time for students by 2.5 hours across all grade levels. This means that total testing time on state and federally required tests has gone down, not up, over the past four years, and is less than 2 percent of all time spent in the classroom over the course of a school year."
It's a mantra that Skandera's agency, the state Public Education Department, has repeated for a long time, despite constant criticism over her emphasis on using standardized test results toward teacher evaluations and school grades. This year, the PARCC test became the new flagship standardized test for the state and has been heavily targeted by critics.
PED and the Santa Fe Public School district say that the PARCC test should take a student an average of nine hours to complete. Mayer laments that this leaves out all the time it takes to prepare for the test, administer the test and makeup the test. Mayer argued for a "need to shift the focus of how we talk about testing in terms of loss of instruction."
"This whole idea that you can escape what it takes to implement testing and just say that these are the raw amount of hours that we're using to test is just wrong," she said at the meeting. "Every school is going to have challenges in how they facilitate that."
Santa Fe School Board member Susan Duncan responded to Mayer, maintaining that no member of the school board is a supporter of PARCC, which evaluates students based on the Common Core state standards.
The PARCC exam remains controversial, as the most Santa Fe recent protests occurred over the weekend with students targeting Skandera's own home.