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Education: Change in standardized testing is welcome

Among the changes that marked the beginning of this year’s legislative session in West Virginia was the announcement by Gov. Jim Justice that the Smarter Balanced Assessment tests that had plagued teachers and students was history. While there was a great deal in Justice’s State of the State address that should warrant intense scrutiny and resistance, the move to change the way the state handles standardized testing was a good one.

“For the larger high schools, it’s going to alleviate a lot of scheduling issues,” said Wood County Schools Curriculum Director Christie Willis. And later, “The right thing to do was to eliminate the test.”

Make no mistake, students will still be tested and regularly assessed by their schools and teachers — and, in fact, there will still be some standardized testing. Now, teachers will be able to get a handle on how well their students are learning without the pressure of preparing for an unnecessary test that was a bad fit for West Virginia kids.

Teachers will no doubt use the new flexibility to further improve the education they are able to give students in their classrooms.

Meanwhile, Justice and lawmakers should continue to look for layers of bureaucracy and unnecessary busywork that can be eliminated throughout state government. Even if reduction in spending is minimal, but service to Mountain State residents is streamlined and improved, the change will be worth the effort.

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