Your voice can help make a difference! Use this letter to urge your U.S. Senators to support a reduction in standardized testing to once each in elementary, middle and high schools, while ending high stakes, punitive sanctions.
The Senate education committee will consider a rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as NCLB) by mid-March. The House bill, up for an early March vote, keeps all the testing in grades 3-8.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed into law in 2002, the latest version of the long-standing Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Its provisions, such as testing grades 3-8 annually in reading and math and punitive sanctions, took effect over the next several years. The law is seven years overdue for reauthorization by Congress. This year, both the House and Senate are showing strong interest in voting for a new version.
Resistance to the overuse and misuse of standardized tests is expanding rapidly across the nation (Guisbond, 2014). The movement’s goals are to roll back testing overkill, eliminate damaging high stakes, and create an assessment system that supports teaching and learning while providing useful information to parents, communities and states. Some states have responded to the uprising by temporarily pausing some sanctions for teachers and schools.
To win federal Race to the Top grants or waivers from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), most states adopted teacher and principal evaluation systems based heavily on student test scores. Many educators have resisted these unproven policies. Researchers from Massachusetts and Chicago-area universities and more than 1,550 New York State principals signed statements against such practices. Chicago teachers struck over this issue, among others.
Schools and districts that receive federal Title I funds sometimes claim they will lose funds if parents, students or teachers boycott standardized tests required under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). As far as we know, no school or district anywhere in the country has ever been penalized for failing to test enough (95%) of its students. Parents, students and teachers generally should not fear harmful consequences to their schools due to federal law if parents boycott standardized tests. Here is why: