Testing overuse and misuse is damaging public education by eating up classroom time, narrowing curriculum and driving many students out of school. It is perpetuating a false narrative of failure and putting schools in low-income communities at risk of closure or privatization.
A controversial December 2015 memo from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is the latest in a series of hollow threats suggesting that states, districts and schools could lose federal financial aid if parents, students or teachers boycott standardized tests. The memo cites several possible penalties for states with high opt-out rates, including withholding some federal funds that help pay for testing. But none of the funding sanctions would affect local schools.
Congress has passed the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA). This bill is the latest version of the long-standing Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces the universally despised “No Child Left Behind.” The new law presents both opportunities and dangers for the testing resistance and reform movement.
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 eight years overdue for reauthorization by Congress. In 2015, both the House and Senate approved reauthorization bills and as of October 2015 are working on a compromise.