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NEA President says misuse of standardized tests must stop

High-stakes decisions based on bad tests hurt students and educators


WASHINGTON - January 06, 2012 -

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has been a major factor in the proliferation of poor quality standardized tests.  As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the flawed legislation and as Congress prepares to reauthorize the law, NEA is urging careful consideration of the fact that these tests are being used to make high-stakes decisions about students' and teachers' futures and have corrupted the pursuit of improving real learning and effective teaching.

“When we use shoddy, fill-in-the bubble tests as the basis for an accountability system — tests that frequently aren't aligned with what's being taught in classrooms — so-called accountability systems lose all credibility,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “It doesn’t make sense to students, educators, parents, or credible testing experts, and now they’re fighting back.”

“Well-designed assessment systems do have a critical role in student success. We should use assessments to help students evaluate their own strengths and needs, and help teachers improve their practice and provide extra help to the students who need it.”

As Congress continues to consider the  reauthorization of  the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and as state legislatures prepare to consider more education legislation this year, Van Roekel emphasized that NEA “remains hopeful that policy makers will wake up from the standardized test craze” and change policies to reflect what research has consistently shown: no single measure of either student learning or teacher performance can ever be the sole determinant of success or failure. Van Roekel stressed that we need robust assessment systems, designed to help all students —systems that make sense to students, parents, educators, and communities.

“High-stakes standardized tests that are used to punish students, teachers and schools, make testing companies more money, but they don’t make students any smarter.  Only good teaching, good parenting and good study habits will help ensure student success,” said Van Roekel.

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Sara Robertson  (202) 822-7823, srobertson@nea.org