Full episode: This is Only a Test

Standardized testing: Irrelevant waste of class time? Essential tool for making sure kids don’t slip through the cracks? Like a Sponge looks at the many angles of this debate.


 


This is Only a Test: Standardized testing smackdown

Researchers and policy experts weigh in on the value of the tests and how their data is used.


 


This is Only a Test: What do the kids say?

We talked with lots of grown-up experts about testing. We also sent a 12-year-old reporter to find out how some California middle school kids really feel about taking standardized tests.


 


This is Only a Test: Your brain on tests

Put down that highlighter. Science shows that recalling information for a test is the most effective way to really learn it. So what does that tell us about how we should teach kids to study?


 


This is Only a Test: Pop quiz panic

Like a Sponge talks with cognitive behavioral therapist Steve Orma about test anxiety. (Spoiler alert: It’s normal! And you can help your child manage it.)


 


Resources

GreatSchools’ State Test Guide
Do you find your child’s state test score report confusing? Do you know what skills are tested? GreatSchools’ State Test Guide for Parents will help you understand what the scores tell you about what your child is learning—and how you can support your child’s learning at home.

The Learning Policy Institute
Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO of The Learning Policy Institute and Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University and founder of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, conducts independent research to improve education practices and policies.

The Education Trust
The Education Trust is a national nonprofit advocacy organization that uses data, equity-focused legislative proposals, and partnerships with leading organizations to expose and address opportunity gaps by race and income.

Searching for Opportunity: Examining racial gaps in access to quality schools in California
GreatSchools’ report is a first-of-its-kind look at student achievement and access to educational opportunity broken down by race and ethnicity. The report sheds light on systemic gaps in access to high-quality education.

PARCC Inc.
PARCC Inc. is a nonprofit organization that supports the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC Consortium), a group of states developing and implementing standardized tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Steve Orma
Steve Orma is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety.

Like a Sponge is produced by Carol Lloyd and Charity Ferreira of GreatSchools, with the support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Sound production by Christopher Ferreira. Special thanks to Ryan Smith, Linda Darling-Hammond, Laura Slover, Steve Orma, Henry Roediger, Sarah-Jane Lorenzo, and all the kids who talked with us about testing. Music in this episode is by the Barenaked Ladies, Centennial Arts Academy fifth graders, Friendship Public Charter School Technology Preparatory Academy, Turtle Lake Elementary School fifth grade teachers, Joyce Seamone, and Spicer Elementary School.

Related links

State standardized test scores: What families should know

What the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) means for your child

Test-taking tips

Why testing makes the brain work better

How to help your child ease test anxiety

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