Welcome from FairTest Executive Director Jesse Mermell

FairTest News

FairTest Examiner, December 2008

Dear Friend:

As we close out 2008 here at FairTest, I can report that this year has been very busy for testing reformers.

One of the biggest stories for 2008 happened just today with the nomination of Arne Duncan, the head of Chicago’s public schools, to be Education Secretary. It is no secret that many American schools are in trouble, and Mr. Duncan has a big job ahead of him. FairTest looks forward to working with Mr. Duncan and the new administration to ensure that every child has access to a high quality, fair education.

Beyond today’s announcement, there has been lots of news from the world of assessment:

The latest Gallup/Phi Delta Kappan poll shows that Americans increasingly recognize that the test-and-punish regime of “No Child Left Behind” is a dismal failure. Eight out of ten Americans feel that NCLB must be thoroughly revamped. The FairTest-led coalition of nearly 150 national organizations continues to push for the law's overhaul, and many states are beginning to rethink their high-stakes testing policies.

In the world of higher education, more than a dozen additional colleges and universities, including well-known schools such as Wake Forest and Smith, dropped their ACT/SAT exam requirements. The College Board even helped our cause by releasing a report this summer which confirmed that the “new” SAT is not a significantly better or fairer predictor of first-year undergraduate grades than the “old” SAT. To top it off, a blue-ribbon commission convened by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) called on more institutions to consider adopting test-optional policies.

FairTest was at the forefront of these developments, and was featured by countless media outlets, including the New York Times, ABC World News Tonight, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, and U.S. News and World Report. We continue to work to further our cause in the public arena.

Of course, we cannot rest on our laurels, and much is in store for 2009. NCLB is likely to be taken up by the new Congress later in the year. Reformers at the state level will be fighting ongoing political battles. Colleges and universities across the nation will review their admissions policies in the wake of the NACAC recommendations. With your help, FairTest will be there every step of the way. Please consider making a year-end contribution to FairTest, the only national organization whose sole mission has been to end the misuse of standardized testing.

I hope you enjoy our current edition of the Examiner. Inside you’ll find additional information about the developments of 2008, and some predictions for what lies ahead.

As always, thank you for your support of FairTest and testing reform.
Happy holidays, and warm wishes for the New Year.

Jesse Mermell

Executive Director