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Educators: students need time to learn and foster creativity

Bipartisan proposal would reduce federally-mandated tests to ensure greater educational opportunity for all students


WASHINGTON - January 21, 2015 -

U.S. Representatives Chris Gibson, Republican of New York, and Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, today introduced a bill to bring much-needed relief to students from the federally-mandated testing required by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act would reduce the current federal role in testing by more than fifty percent, and, instead, restore “grade span testing,” which would occur both in English and Math once in elementary school, once in middle school and once in high school. Congress began in earnest the process to reauthorize the federal law this past week.

NCLB more than doubled the number of high-stakes tests in reading and math—in these subjects alone, K-12 students now take 14 federally-mandated tests, compared to 6 before enactment of the law. In some cases, more than a month of instructional time is lost to test preparation and administration in a single year.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement:

“What is clear after years of too much testing is that the status quo isn’t working for students, especially those in high poverty areas. We must reduce the emphasis on standardized tests that have corrupted the quality of the education received by children. Parents and educators know that the one-size-fits-all annual federal testing structure has not worked and has not sufficiently exposed opportunity gaps where they exist. By allowing states and districts to put into place assessments that truly report gaps in resources and opportunity we will best serve the needs of students and the educators who serve them.

“Testing takes time away from learning. Reducing the number of federally-mandated tests by more than half would free up time and resources, diminish “teaching to the test,” and allow educators to focus on what is most important: instilling a love of learning in their students.

“We commend Representatives Gibson and Sinema for recognizing the growing problem with too much testing and proactively putting forward a commonsense proposal that would again allow educators to inspire students’ natural curiosity, imagination, and desire to learn.

“We look forward to working with Congress as the reauthorization of the federal law evolves to set a new vision of shared responsibility for a public education system that promotes opportunity, equity, and excellence for all students.”

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The National Education Association (www.nea.org) 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: Miguel A. Gonzalez
202-822-7823, mgonzalez@nea.org


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