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NEA President Dennis Van Roekel on Grade Span Testing Bill HR-4171


WASHINGTON - March 11, 2014 -

U.S. Representatives Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have introduced the "Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act" (HR-4171). This bill brings commonsense reform to the over-testing currently required by the No Child Left Behind Act and opens the door to a better system of accountability that puts student learning at the forefront. The bill would reduce the number of federally mandated statewide math and reading tests from 14 to six. Current federal law requires yearly statewide standardized testing in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. This is the first time since the passage of No Child Left Behind more than 12 years ago that a House bill has been introduced to reduce the federal testing mandates.

The following is a statement from NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

"The National Education Association and its 3 million members applaud Representatives Gibson and Sinema for listening to the growing chorus of voices from parents, teachers, students, and entire communities expressing concern about the detrimental effects and harm caused by the overuse and misuse of high-stakes standardized testing. The federal testing mandates, combined with state and district level assessments, have snowballed to create the feeling that our schools are not centers of learning, but rather are test-prep factories.

"Test taking should not overwhelm a student's classroom experience, a teacher's instruction, or a school system's resources. Grade span testing, meaning required standardized tests once in elementary, once in middle and once in high school, provides more time for learning, more flexibility, and more useful data to help students achieve. Educators across the country have been pushing for real assessment systems that help them teach by providing timely results to help them improve instruction during the current school year, rather than systems that do nothing more than label and punish. Educators know what's best for their students and that's why they are calling for well-designed assessment tools that can help students evaluate their own strengths and needs, and help teachers improve. Teachers want to be able to identify student growth and determine if their practice supports student learning. The return to grade span testing will not impede our societal demand for progress and results for every student. Rather, it will give students and educators more time for quality teaching and real learning.”

"The over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing love of learning, pushing students out of school and driving teachers out of the profession. This bill by Rep. Gibson and Rep. Sinema would help put a stop to these negative consequences, and help ensure that all students succeed."

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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: Celeste Busser (202) 822-7823, cfbusser@nea.org