Testing Public Opinion

K-12 Testing

Both parents and the general public overwhelming believe that assessment information from classrooms is more valuable than standardized tests for determining how well students are doing, according to the 1999 Phi Delta Kappan poll (September 1999).


Respondents were asked which of four methods “would provide the most accurate picture of a public school student’s academic progress?” One third selected “examples of the student’s work,” 27% selected “standardized local and state achievement tests,” 23% selected “letter grades awarded by the teacher,” and 14% chose “written observations by the teacher.” In effect, only one quarter thought standardized test information was more valuable than classroom-based information.


Testing reform advocates have long argued that school-based data should be the basis for significant decisions about students and for accountability. While the poll results do not imply that three-quarters of the public want to ignore standardized tests, they do mean that for both parents and the public school-based information is most important. Advocates need to build on these data in working to reduce the control tests are exerting over significant educational decisions, curriculum and instruction.