by Félix Pérez
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Increasingly frustrated with the abuse and overuse of high stakes standardized tests and the negative effects they have on student learning, nearly 9,000 educators approved a national campaign to reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by standardized tests and to implement more effective forms of assessment and accountability.
“The testing fixation has reached the point of insanity,” said Arizona high school math teacher and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “Whatever valuable information testing mandates provided have been completely overshadowed by the enormous collateral damage inflicted on too many students. Our schools have been reduced to mere test prep factories and we are too-often ignoring student learning and opportunity in America.”
The resounding voice vote, taken Thursday at the NEA Representative Assembly in Denver, shook the massive convention hall and was met with roaring applause.
“It is past time for politicians to turn their eyes and ears away from those who profit from over-testing our students and listen instead to those who know what works in the classroom,” said Van Roekel.
Among the actions included in the “Toxic Testing” campaign are:
- Calling on the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Consumer Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission to name a “testing ombudsman” to serve as a watchdog over the testing industry and its market power in education.
- Pressing the president and Congress to end the mandate for annual tests and repeal federal requirements that standardized test scores be used to evaluate educators.
- Developing a real accountability system that prioritizes learning over labels.
Added Van Roekel:
The sad truth is that test-based accountability has not closed the opportunity gaps between affluent and poor schools and students. It has not driven funding and support to the students from historically underfunded communities who need it most.
In other news from NEA’s Representative Assembly, known as the world’s largest democratic deliberative assembly and NEA’s primary legislative and policy-making body, delegates elected a new president, former Utah Teacher of the Year Lily Eskelsen García. Eskelsen García, who started her 20-year career in public education as a lunch lady before becoming an elementary teacher who worked with homeless children, won 94% of the votes cast. She will serve a three-year term.
The delegates also voted for a new vice president, Becky Pringle, and secretary-treasurer, Princess Moss. Pringle is a middle school physical science teacher from Pennsylvania, and Moss is an elementary school music teacher from Virginia.