by Colleen Flaherty
A new bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) takes aim at reducing the over-testing in schools put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act.
This legislation, dubbed the “Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act,” would assess students in certain grade spaces and reduce the number of federally-mandated standardized tests from 14 to six.
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“The National Education Association and its more than 3 million members applaud Representatives Gibson and Sinema for listening to the growing chorus of voices from parents, teachers, students and entire communities expressing concern about the detrimental effects and harm caused by the overuse and misuse of high-stakes standardized testing,” said Dennis Van Roekel, NEA president and Arizona teacher.
“The federal testing mandates, when combined with the amount of state and district level assessments, have snowballed to create the feeling that our schools are not centers of learning, but rather are test-prep factories.”
Many have spoken out against excessive testing, says Van Roekel, and reducing the federally-required testing to just once in elementary, once in middle and once in high school will provide educators with more time for learning and greater flexibility, while ultimately provided more useful data.
Educators across the country have been pushing for real assessment systems that help them teach by providing timely results to help them improve instruction during the current school year, rather than systems that do nothing more than label and punish. Educators know what’s best for their students and that’s why they are calling for well-designed assessment tools that can help students evaluate their own strengths and needs and help teachers improve.
The proposed bill would replace the current federally mandated testing schedule. All too often, these tests do not focus enough on student performance and are used as poor measures for school accountability and teacher performance.
The new testing legislation will actually improve accountability while putting student learning at the forefront, said Van Roekel.
“The over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing love of learning, pushing students out of school and driving teachers out of the profession. This bill by Rep. Gibson and Rep. Sinema would help put a stop to these negative consequences, and help ensure that all students succeed.”