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.
Across the nation, resistance to test overuse and misuse reached unprecedented levels in spring 2014. The rapidly growing movement built on significant test opposition unleashed in 2013. This year, resistance erupted in more states with far more participants, and it won notable victories.
The first wave of tangible “wins” included many significant steps forward. In the past two years:
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.
In the past five years cheating cases have been documented in 39 states plus the District of Columbia and U.S. Department of Defense schools, according to government and news media reports compiled by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). Jurisdictions with schools whose unlikely score gains were flagged by the Atlanta Journal Constitution or USA Today statistical analyses are not included unless there is additional evidence to confirm the listing: