Plain Talk: How worried should you be about North Dakota’s testing decline?


One thing I think about, as our kids return to school from a long holiday break, is how hard it can be to get them back into the education groove.

That challenge is perhaps on the minds of parents more so now than before, given the way COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down.

In October Kirsten Baesler, the superintendent of North Dakota’s public school system, released data from testing showing significant pandemic-era declines among the state’s students in proficiency levels for English and mathematics.

How worried should that make you?

Perhaps not as worried as you think you should be says Dr. Dann Conn.

Conn is a professor of teacher education and kinesiology at Minot State University. He’s also the co-author of a book, ” Unraveling the Assessment Industrial Complex ,” which calls into question the purpose and efficacies of the very testing regime being used to measure educational declines.

“Kids are resilient,” Conn said on this episode of Plain Talk. “They’ll bounce back.”

He argues that parents, educators, and policymakers ought to be more focused on what we might call real-world outcomes than testing scores.

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