LETTER: Referred Law 16 is a ‘blue sky’ fallacyGovernment-mandated testing doesn’t actually support student learning. After 10 years of such standardized testing, research data has been correlated to the harmful effects of such testing.
By: Dave Wegner, Sioux Falls
To the Editor:
The attempt by the governor and Legislature to “shake up” public education will be decided by voters in November. The destructive ramifications of HB1234 (Referred Law 16) are huge.
At the behest of the secretary of state, Rapid City teacher Nicole Keegan and Mitchell superintendent Joe Grave have written a “Pro-Referred Law 16” document that is designed to persuade a “yes” vote on RL-16. This document is a “blue sky” portrayal incorporating opinions not shared by the majority of educators.
Beyond the many sensible arguments that teachers are putting forth, most people are unaware of research regarding the effects of testing on students. It should be noted that such government-mandated testing doesn’t actually support student learning. After 10 years of such standardized testing, research data has been correlated to the harmful effects of such testing. The data comes from parents, teachers, counselors, school nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists. An organization called the Alliance for Childhood has been a leader in such research.
The data tells the story of an unprecedented increase in the number of young children being treated for psychiatric illnesses ranging from learning disabilities and attention disorders to anxiety and depression. Such research deserves voter consideration, because Law 16 embraces the expansion of standardized testing. Under HB1234 (i.e. Law 16) as much as 50 percent of the new teacher evaluation will be measured by high-stakes testing. Testing will be expanded to include many areas beyond math, science and reading.
South Dakota voters can call a time out by voting no on Referred Law 16 in November. Perhaps a different and more thoughtful mix of legislators will be elected in November. We need sensible legislators who will work with educators to provide the best bang for the buck while supporting best possible learning experiences in our schools. HB1234 (Law 16) certainly doesn’t cut it. Reduction or complete elimination of standardized testing will require a series of steps. The crucial first step is for voters to dismantle this onerous Law 16 by voting no in November.