FairTest Statement on Federal Standardized Exam Mandates

for further information:

Dr. Monty Neill  (617) 477-9792                     

Bob Schaeffer   (239) 395-6773

for immediate release, Tuesday, January 20, 2015

STATEMENT OF NATIONAL CENTER FOR FAIR & OPEN TESTING (FAIRTEST) ON FEDERAL STANDARDIZED EXAM MANDATES

As Washington, DC awaits President Obama’s Tuesday evening State of the Union speech and the Wednesday morning U.S. Senate hearing on overhauling the “No Child Left Behind” law, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) released the following statement:

“The rapidly growing assessment reform movement has forced the issues of test overuse and misuse onto the national agenda. Across the U.S. parents, students, teachers, education administrators, school boards and other local leaders are saying, "enough is enough" to standardized exam overkill. 

“The Congressional process, beginning with Wednesday's Senate hearing, is a ‘test’ of whether elected representatives listen to constituents or to inside-the-Beltway lobbyists and corporate donors. This is not liberals versus conservatives or left versus right, but grassroots education stakeholders fighting ‘elites’ who often know little about what goes on in public school classrooms.

“The test-every-kid-(almost)-every-year federal testing strategy has failed by its own measures. Overall academic achievement improved more in the period before “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) than in the following decade. Progress in narrowing gaps between demographic groups was also generally faster before the law was implemented than afterwards (http://www.fairtest.org/independent-test-results-show-nclb-fails). 

“By nearly tripling federally required testing, NCLB encouraged state and local officials to greatly increase their own testing. The average U.S. student now takes 113 government-mandated standardized exams from kindergarten through high school. This fixation on testing narrowed curriculum, dumbed down teaching, and led to an explosion of cheating.

“FairTest and its allies favor a significant reduction in federally mandated tests. Among the options being considered in Congress, the best is limiting required standardized exams to just once each in elementary, middle and high school. That was the requirement before NCLB. Test-based consequences for students, teachers and schools must also be cut back substantially to restore sanity to both assessment and accountability in our schools.”

Later this week, FairTest Executive Director Monty Neill will be on Capitol Hill meeting with key Congressional staff about these proposals. 

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