An open letter from the NEA and the educators of America
A generation ago, our nation enacted the No Child Left Behind law (NCLB) which measured the quality of our schools by the state standardized reading and math test scores of students. Schools that did not make the required progress were labeled as failing and punished by being closed, turned into charters and/or having school staff fired.
These testing mandates provided critical information regarding students who struggle with basic math and reading skills, but the punitive sanctions they triggered have not improved our schools. These “test, label, and punish” policies have failed. We are no closer now to realizing educational opportunity for all students than we were when NCLB was enacted.
The House has introduced the Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act, H.R. 4172. Sign our open letter now to urge lawmakers to put the focus of public education on student learning.
It is now 2014, the year that NCLB declared that all our students would be proficient. They are not. What they are is tired of testing, and we are too. We now spend almost a third of our time in schools preparing students to take standardized tests, giving those tests, and reviewing the results of those tests. There are hundreds of subjects that are not tested. Many are no longer taught at all or have been defunded and de-emphasized. We did not become educators to drill students in standardized test taking.
Our children’s education should not be about learning how to fill in the bubbles on standardized tests
In the last few years, rather than moving away from the failed policies of No Child Left Behind, our nation has doubled down on them. We now give standardized tests to students who have not been taught the subjects being tested. We use students’ test scores to evaluate teachers who not only did not teach the subject being tested, but did not even teach the students taking the test. The resulting evaluations are no better than flipping a coin.
It is time to end this toxic testing and implement real accountability in our public education system. We need an accountability system that is centered on our students and their needs, not test scores. As educators who have dedicated our careers and lives to our students and their success, we will not stand silent while commercial standardized testing is used to reduce our public education system to wreckage.
As educators, we know what works. Students thrive when they enter kindergarten ready to learn, are challenged by high quality teachers and other education professionals, are taught to high standards with aligned curriculum, are assessed to determine what they have mastered and what they need help with, and receive individual attention when needed.
We also know that our students need strong family support and deserve excellent resources and school facilities. Too many of our schools do not meet these criteria. Too often race and economic class demarcate the line between those students who receive a quality public education, and those who do not.
Join with us to take back our public schools for all of our students. With your help, we will:
- Pass the bipartisan Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act (H.R. 4172) that will reduce the federal role in testing to the pre-No Child Left Behind status known as “grade-span” testing—once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school.
- End the excessive and toxic testing in our schools;
- Develop a real accountability system that prioritizes learning over labels; and
- Ensure that each public school is a place in which every student thrives.
Join our national campaign to put the focus of public education on student learning.
In Solidarity —
Our Accountability System Is Flunking Its Test
"The idea that everything will be better if we test students and just "hold teachers accountable" for results is unfair to our students and insulting to those of us who devote our lives to educating kids." Dennis Van Roekel
We Won't Give Up