Red-tape, busywork, unnecessary regulations – are more polite terms for BS

To give a specific example of a recent policy update that even though it is an important issue, I would categorize as adding too much red-tape. The issue is the increase in amount of time schoolchildren are spending on the mandated testing that has been increased with the No Child Left Behind [3] and Race to the Top [1, 2] initiatives.

Research into how much time children were spending preparing for the mandated tests and taking them found that the total time was the most significant in only one of the school years when 2 or 3 tests were being taken (in 8th grade I think some areas had 2 or 3 tests). In that year students were spending 2.3%* of their time on the tests (*or some statistic near that number but I haven’t re-found that article. A different one: [4])

The policy that has been proposed to address the excessive time spent in mandated testing may end up making more busy work than necessary for administrators and teachers because it sets a limit based on a percentage. It states that no more than 2% of the student’s time will be spent on the mandated testing. This may have been based on the 2.3%* number from the research, but what is only a few sentences for a politician or other administrator to write in a policy, can sometimes ending up being a time intensive tracking job for all of the individual schools to have to add to their busy schedule.

Percentages require totals that are obtained from all the different time spent by the children in all the different types of activities for the whole school year in this case — which is a lot of data for one research study let alone all schools throughout the nation every year into the future.

During my career I had to do a time study for one week every three years in order to see whether the time the agency spent in total on breast feeding education was within federal goals. Doing the time study was laborious but educational regarding just how I did spend my time — some of it was on breast feeding education but I would have hated to have to do some sort of time tracking for the entire year — every year.

A much simpler policy that would also have been based on the school testing research would have simply set the cap at no more than two mandated tests per year or only one test per year for younger children and a maximum of two for students in older grades, and limits could be simply set on a maximum number of hours of preparation time allowed just as tests usually have a time limit for how long students can spend completing the tests — Counting the total number of tests would be much simpler to track and count — one — two — easy, compared to having to monitor how much time students are spending on tests compared to everything else they do in the whole school year.

Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./