It makes no sense to take outdated tests

David Dennis of Wichita, the outgoing chairman of the Kansas State Board of Education, expressed understandable frustration last week that the state must give assessment tests over standards that it no longer uses. “We’re giving, as I recall, a couple hundred thousand assessments in reading and a couple hundred thousand assessments in math each year, and that’s some big dollars when we’re going to use it for nothing,” Dennis complained, noting that the tests cost between $10 and $15 per test per student. The state has received a waiver for the No Child Left Behind law and already adopted new Common Core state standards in reading and math. But because the new assessments won’t be implemented until the 2014-15 school year, the federal government still requires the state to give the old tests. In addition to wasting money, this puts school districts in a bind: Do they focus on the new standards (as they are supposed to)? Or do they continue to emphasize the old standards (because they may be criticized if their assessment scores drop)?