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Community leaders discuss standardized testing and its impact on educational attainment

Standardized tests have been a hot debated topic in the education system for as long as they have existed. Some people argue that they don’t paint an accurate picture of what students are learning in schools, some believe they are biased to cater toward more privileged students and others see them as the one of the best way to determine what students are learning and how their educational paths may need to be supplemented.

At our 81st weekly One Rouge Friday Community Check-In, we discussed the lack of educational attainment. This conversation highlights the first One Rouge driver of poverty, lack of educational attainment which will be explored further through the upcoming mural on education.

Here’s what local community leaders had to say about standardized tests and areas of improvement necessary in education during our One Rouge check-in.

We want to keep the discussion going, let us know your thoughts in the comments.


Dr. Erin Bendily, Executive Director at Propel America

“I get that testing is not popular. My son reminds me every day that it’s not his favorite. In the world of education, our teachers need it to figure out what they’re learning and where they’re falling behind. It needs to be in an unbiased way. If we’re not doing that then we’re missing an opportunity and we’re not arming teachers with what they need to do their job well.”

Jill Pinsky, Managing Director at Watershed Advisors

“Assessments are important. They tell us what kids know and can do. Those types get the most attention because they’re tied to accountability. They set the standard for what we expect kids to do. They are a tool. I’ll add they have been a critical civil rights tool. Without those tests and the related accountability, we wouldn’t have had the evidence in the large gaps between our students and the state wouldn’t have had what was needed to close those gaps.”

Tyrin Johnson, Office of Admissions at Louisiana State University

“I’m a recent education graduate from Southern University. I do think standardized tests are very important. As someone from a single-parent household with low-income, I was able to get an education due to testing. Unfortunately a lot of my classmates were not able to get to the score needed because they didn’t have the resources. TOPS has been really influential in my education journey. I understand what it has done for me. It really launched my passion for education. There are those with the drive to excel but don’t have the resources.”

Adonica Pelichet Duggan, Chief Executive Officer at Baton Rouge Alliance for Students

“Tests are a measure of how well we educate our children in poverty. I do think it’s about what we do with the data and how we leverage that data and not seeing it as a punitive tool. It does provide important information to families about schools that are meeting the needs of students that look like my children. Finally, I do think there’s something important about the role of families in education. We saw a lot of the burden of education shifted to parents during the pandemic. If we rely on the families then we’ve failed as an education system. We can’t rely on families that have so many other needs to be the thing that determines whether or not that child is going to be successful in school. What does it mean to be well educated in Baton Rouge? There are a lot of things wrapped up in all that.”

Tyrin Johnson

“With education we can become very stats based and numbers based, but these students can often feel like a number going into this system. There needs to be more intention about working with these students. It takes more than just the education system. It does have to be a connection. It takes Saturday sessions. It takes after hour sessions. In underrepresented communities, it can be biased. You have to assess them differently. I do often challenge staff in the office even with reading applications. I initially view their essays rather than their numbers.”

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