“This administration – acting through the Department of Education – has sadly made an overreliance on testing the centerpiece of its education policy,” Weingarten said in response. “The department spawned this testing fixation – through both Race to the Top and the NCLB waivers – when it said that standardized student testing must be a ‘significant’ piece of teacher evaluation and accountability systems.”
“As a result, the administration’s policies throughout the country – whether states have adopted the Common Core or not – have reduced kids to a test score. And that’s been painfully obvious in my visits to schools nationwide; I’ve heard from parents who are frustrated, teachers who are discouraged and students who are petrified as a result of this testing,” Weingarten said.
“Thankfully, the Department of Education has finally heard this as well. I’m glad the secretary did a paean to teachers. They never get enough respect and acknowledgement for the Herculean efforts they have made in the last few years. The department’s admission today that testing has gone too far is a good step, if there is a real course-correction that is linked to concrete action and not just words,” Weingarten added.
Weingarten also said, “and that concrete action can start today with a stroke of a pen through the waiver process. We shouldn’t be testing every child, every year. We need assessments that meaningfully measure student learning. We need to invest the time and resources wasted on excessive and unhelpful testing back into art and music and other enriching curriculum. And we need a new accountability system that moves from a test-and-punish model to a support-and-improve model. The over-testing this administration has too often championed has sapped our students and our classrooms of the joy of learning. We need to restore that joy now.”
Earlier in the day, Duncan acknowledged the need to take a closer look at the growing role of testing in our public schools in a post at the department’s blog. He credited teachers for raising concerns over test fixation in his “A Back-to-School Conversation with Teachers and School Leaders.”
to read Secretary Duncan’s post at the U.S. Dept. of Education’s “HomeRoom” blog.
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Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten on Twitter at @RWeingarten.