Arne Duncan's AERA Speech: Standardized Test Criticism 'Is Merited'

Secretary Of Education Admits Standardized Test Have Big Flaws

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan conceded Tuesday that there are serious flaws in standardized testing, telling attendees at a meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) that much criticism about testing “is merited,” according to Education Week.

Duncan was speaking in San Francisco, Calif., at AERA’s annual five-day conference. His remarks came on the same day that both Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, proposed a moratorium for negative consequences on teacher evaluations tied to the first few years of implementing Common Core State Standards, a more in-depth set of math and reading benchmarks for standardized tests.

A protest was held before Duncan’s speech. Picketers held signs denouncing his policies and his appearance at AERA. Some picketers' signs took aim at Duncan’s and President Obama's Race to the Top program, a nationwide competition in which school districts and states compete for grant money based on assessments reflecting teacher effectiveness and student learning.

During his speech, Duncan addressed the protesters’ concerns. According to EdSource, he noted that the “solution to mediocre tests is not to abandon assessment,” but to support “much better assessment."

Duncan also addressed the difficulties schools may face during the first few years of Common Core implementation. When asked if he would put a moratorium on standardized testing while schools got adjusted to Common Core Standards, he said, “We understand this is a difficult tough time of transition. We’re spending a huge amount of time listening to ideas about how to do it."

The Common Core State Standards initiative has been adopted by 45 states and Washington, D.C. While New York and Kentucky have already begun testing based on the new standards, the rest of the states will start doing so in 2014.

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