Education

Miami-Dade announces less testing, more teaching time

MCT

Here’s something kids will be happy about: Miami-Dade is cutting back on testing.

On Wednesday morning, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced that the district is doing away with a series of exams to free up more time for instruction.

Starting this year, schools will no longer administer 12 mid-year assessments in English language arts and math, which will free up 185 minutes of classroom time. The exams were previously given to students in grades 3 through 8.

“It is important to know how and how well children are learning, how well they can demonstrate proficiency, but that should not come at the expense of overburdening teachers, students and parents by taking away teaching time,” Carvalho said.

The changes are part of a push by the school board, parents and teachers to reduce testing time. In 2014, Miami-Dade got rid of more than 250 final exams, some of which had previously evaluated students’ comprehension of subjects like music, physical education and visual arts. During the 2015-2016 school year, students took fewer tests than in previous years thanks to efforts at both the local and state levels.

The move to cut back on testing is widely supported by teachers in Miami-Dade, who say they lose valuable instruction time to prepping students for exams.

“We’re happy to see that there is a reduction in these 12 tests, that it’s going to increase the amount of time that we’re able to instruct our students and be with them, to really explore things that can’t be tested and to really have that autonomy and that academic freedom to do the things that we want to do with our kids,” said Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of the United Teachers of Dade union.

In spite of support from parents, teachers and the local school board, getting rid of tests is no easy task. Many exams are mandated under federal or state regulations or are required for students to earn credit for advanced programs.

Nationwide, teachers and students have protested standardized tests by boycotting them altogether, but the movement, known as “Opt Out,” has been slow to grow in Miami-Dade.

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