Standardized tests do not accurately reflect students learning and use up too much classroom learning time, according to a recent survey of teachers released by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to the report, entitled Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, only 45 percent of teachers believe students take the tests seriously and perform to the best of their abilities. Even fewer teachers think the tests are meaningful. Three out of four teachers say that the results of standardized tests are not an accurate reflection of individual student achievement.

Overall, the more than 10,000 teachers surveyed found some value in standardized tests as a way to benchmark and compare student and school performance. However, they were far less likely to find standardized tests valuable for measuring student performance. Where 62 percent of teachers found ongoing classroom formative assessments as “absolutely essential” for measuring a student’s academic performance, only eight percent of teachers found state standardized tests to be essential.

As one elementary teacher said, “These tests do not show that the student who came in to fourth grade reading at a second grade level actually gained a full year, they only show that the student is performing below grade level.”

The Primary Sources report also raises concerns about whether standardized tests are measuring the right skills. Nearly nine in 10 teachers say that curriculum that goes beyond what is tested on standardized tests is important for raising student achievement. As one New Mexico teacher put it, “There needs to be less emphasis on mastering a test, and more on mastering the skills and higher level concepts in the core subjects.”

Scholastic’s chief academic officer Francie Alexander sees the passionate teacher response to Primary Sources survey as indicative of teachers’ dedication to the profession and willingness to go above and beyond to meet students’ needs. “Teaching is multi-faceted and complex work. Listening to the voices of the teachers who work with the nation’s children every day is paramount when it comes to improving student achievement.”

To download the full Primary Sources report, or take the survey, visit the Primary Sources website.

Teachers: How do standardized tests affect the work that happens in your classroom? Join the conversation at Scholastic Teachers on Facebook!