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Letter to the Senate urging co-sponsorship of the Feingold and Dodd bills

October 25, 2007

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to add your name as cosponsor of two bills that would improve assessment systems and offer more meaningful accountability for measuring school and student achievement: the Improving Student Testing Act of 2007 (S. 2053), introduced by Senators Feingold (D-WI) and Leahy (D-VT), and the No Child Left Behind Reform Act (S. 1194), introduced by Senators Dodd (D-CT) and Salazar (D-CO).

NEA strongly supports the No Child Left Behind goals of improving student learning and closing achievement and skills gaps among different groups of students. However, we believe that the law's reliance on standardized testing as the sole measure of school and student performance represents a one-size-fits-all approach that does not provide an accurate measure of achievement and dilutes the targeting of resources and assistance to schools truly in need. Furthermore, assessment experts have consistently advised that reliance on a single assessment instrument to determine school or student success is inappropriate and defies research and sound practice.

S. 2053 and S. 1194 will help address these issues by offering a more educationally sound approach to assessment and accountability. For example:

  • Both bills would allow states to design and utilize growth models to assess student progress over time, rather than simply looking at their performance on a standardized test one day of the year.

  • S. 2053 would encourage states to develop and use higher quality assessments, placing greater emphasis on higher-order thinking, analytical, and problem solving skills.

  • S. 2053 would also allow states to return to the pre-NCLB requirement of statewide annual testing once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school.

  • S. 1194 would target school choice and supplemental educational services to students with the greatest needs -- those in specific subgroups that fall short of Adequate Yearly Progress targets.

  • S. 1994 would also provide additional flexibility in meeting highly qualified teacher requirements.

The two bills would help curb the epidemics of "teaching to the test" and narrowing of the curriculum, both of which have been negative, unintended by-products of current accountability requirements. To add your name to S. 2053, contact Amanda Beaumont in Senator Feingold's office (4-5323). To cosponsor S. 1194, contact Catherine Graham Hildum in Senator Dodd's office (4-2823).


Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy