by PBA, from The Brustein & Manasevit Federal Update - prepared to inform Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC’s legislative clients of recent events in federal education legislation and/or administrative law – via email
Sept 26, 2014 :: Last week, Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced a bill that would allow States to reduce the amount of standardized testing they are required to conduct under federal law. The Tackling Excessive Standardized Testing (TEST) Act, H.R. 5612, would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to permit States to stagger testing in math and English/language arts (ELA). Rather than testing students in both subjects in grades 3 through 8, as is currently required, students could be tested in ELA in grades 3, 5, and 7, and in math in grades 4, 6, and 8.
Additionally, the top 15% of schools in each State could transition to a four-year testing cycle, so long as they meet a minimum passage rate of 75%. That means that they would only need to conduct ELA testing in grades 3 and 7 and math testing in grades 4 and 8. The bill would also give States flexibility in the assessment of limited-English-proficient (LEP) students. Test results for LEP students would not be factored into school accountability until the students have been in the U.S. school system for one calendar year.
“While some testing is essential to ensure that our students are actually learning what is being taught, I share the same concerns as many of our local superintendents and parents,” Israel said at an event in New York earlier this month. “We’re over-testing our students and stifling their creativity. They need the classroom time to learn knowledge, not just how to take a test.”
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, supports testing reduction and said that she hopes to work with Israel in the next session of Congress to “strengthen” the bill.
“Standardized tests these days are driving teaching and learning, rather than giving teachers and parents useful data and feedback to help children,” Weingarten said in a statement last week. “That is why this bill allowing States to reduce testing is an important step. It also points to the need to build a new accountability system that uses testing as a way to inform instruction, emphasizes meaningful learning, and includes the resources and capacity schools, students, and teachers need to continuously improve.”
H.R. 5612 is currently awaiting consideration by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The major pieces of draft legislation to reauthorize ESEA introduced during this Congress do not propose to modify the testing requirements currently in place. However, another bill introduced in March by Representative Christopher Gibson (R-NY), H.R. 4172, would also drastically reduce the frequency of assessments during a student’s educational career.
Frank Wolfe, “House Dem Proposes to Reduce Testing Requirements,” Education Daily, September 24, 2014.