“More Teaching, Less Testing Act of 2023”: FairTest’s Statement in Strong Support

We urge Congress to pass the “More Teaching, Less Testing Act of 2023” offered by Rep. Jamal Bowman (D-NY).Thisproposalrepresents asignificant improvement to the Elementary and Secondary School Act of 2016, which currentlygovernspubiceducation.Itreduces the amount of standardized testing required by the federal government in elementary schools and provides increased funding to promote innovative authentic assessments that will improveeducationalquality and equity.

Research shows that public school students take an average of 112 standardized tests over the course of their K-12 education. That is significantly more than necessary to get a useful indication of student learning and the impact of schools on students that have been historically marginalized. That level of standardized testing also crowds out much of what is enriching and interesting for students in school by making teachers devote inordinate amounts of time to test preparation.

By eliminating high-stakes consequences of standardized tests for students and teachers, the new bill will promote education equity and quality. The disparate impact of standardized tests on marginalized communities is well documented. Current testing policies negatively impact grade retention, graduation rates, and future economic and social success, without producing educational benefit. Being less wedded to testing will enable schools to innovate, provide richer curriculum, better meet student needs, enhance teacher professionalism, and support deeper learning for all students.

The bill, by allowing states to use grade span testing, matrix sampling or combination testing, also provides  flexibility while maintaining sufficient systemic checks to inform school practice and education policy. This will provide the requisite information to make sure subgroups of students do not fall through the cracks. Expanded funding of the Innovative Assessment Development Authority and amendment of the “comparability” requirement for new assessments will enable the development of performance assessment systems that improve education practice and enhance student learning.

We hope that bipartisan consensus can be reached on this important relief for states, districts, and schools to empower assessment innovation and teacher practice while benefiting all students.  

Harry Feder

Executive Director