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State Senator Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport) is a former mayor with a teaching degree, so he thinks his prior experience provides an interesting take on the expansion of standardized testing in Pennsylvania schools.
From a former mayor’s point of view, he says the tests go beyond evaluating student and teacher proficiency.
“You advertise that a school district is failing because of the standardized testing results, you send a message out to the business world, and anyone interested in moving into that community because school district’s the first thing they check,” Brewster said.
As someone with some teaching experience, Brewster said the standardized testing system should be evaluated on three main premisses.
“I think the testing results right now need to be reviewed from a substance perspective, an implementation perspective, and, of course, the cost.”
Brewster said the standardized testing operation in the state is a multi-million dollar effort put on by an out-of-state company, and he plans on presenting a resolution to the state Senate to establish a commission with all stakeholders involved.
“Parents, students, superintendents, teachers, local elected officials, Department of Education,” Brewster said. “Let’s take a look at this test, let’s make sure it’s accurate, let’s make sure it’s effective, and let’s talk about the implementation.”
Brewster suggests socioeconomics, teacher education, and environmental surroundings aren’t reflected in standardized test scores.
“The point is, if you go into other regions of the state it’s much different than, say, inner-city Philadelphia or Pittsburgh,” Brewster said. “Not that they would be taught differently, but they would certainly be evaluated based on the issues that reside in their region.”