End Toxic Testing: Let’s put the focus back on supporting student learning


NEA Survey: Nearly Half Of Teachers Consider Leaving Profession Due to Standardized Testing  November 2, 2014
November 2, 2014

Poll: Public Rejects Teacher Evaluations Based on Student Test Scores September 16, 2014

Time to Scale Back School Testing  September 12, 2014

New America Media: High Stakes Testing is Toxic  August 25, 2014

Diane Ravitch - How Testing Reduces Instructional Time

NEA Campaign Against Toxic Testing
Read more at:  http://www.nea.org/grants/33354.htm

Raise Your Hand

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.

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:

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 —
America’s Educators

Please join our national campaign to put the focus of public education on student learning HERE.

Raise your hand for public education

NEA delegates approve creation of national campaign for equity and against “Toxic Testing”
Campaign to focus on assessments and developing real accountability systems

DENVER - July 03, 2014 -

Picture Caption: The Hawaii Delegation on opening day of the 2014 NEA RA.

The National Education Association (NEA) will launch a national campaign to put the focus of assessments and accountability back on ensuring equity and supporting student learning and end the “test blame and punish” system that has dominated public education in the last decade. The average American student and teacher now spend about 30 percent of the school year preparing for and taking standardized tests. NEA’s nearly 9,000 delegates voted today at its 2014 Representative Assembly for new measures to drive student success.

“The testing fixation has reached the point of insanity,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Whatever valuable information testing mandates provided have been completely overshadowed by the enormous collateral damage inflicted on too many students. Our schools have been reduced to mere test prep factories and we are too-often ignoring student learning and opportunity in America.”

The measure approves the use of NEA resources to launch a national campaign to end the high stakes use of standardized tests, to sharply reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by tests, and to implement more effective forms of assessment and accountability. The impact of excessive testing is particularly harmful to many poor, minority, and special needs students.

“The sad truth is that test-based accountability has not closed the opportunity gaps between affluent and poor schools and students,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “It has not driven funding and support to the students from historically underfunded communities who need it most. Poverty and social inequities have far too long stood in the way of progress for all students.”

The anti-toxic testing measure calls for governmental oversight of the powerful testing industry with the creation of a “testing ombudsman” by the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Consumer Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. The position will serve as a watchdog over the influential testing industry and monitor testing companies’ impact on education legislation. NEA will continue to push the president and Congress to completely overhaul ESEA and return to grade-span testing, thus ending NCLB’s mandates that require yearly testing, and to lift mandates requiring states to administer outdated tests that are not aligned to school curricula.

“It is past time for politicians to turn their eyes and ears away from those who profit from over-testing our students and listen instead to those who know what works in the classroom,” said Van Roekel.

NEA delegates also reaffirmed their commitment to high standards for all students and committed to further working with states that adopted the Common Core State Standards to ensure they are properly implemented and that educators are empowered to lead in that implementation process.

Delegates also passed new language on improving accountability systems, pushing for implementation of systems providing “real accountability in our public education system,” said Van Roekel. Delegates agreed to convene a broad representative group of NEA leaders from the national, state and local level to develop plans for public school accountability and support systems.

“Educators know that real accountability in public schools requires all stakeholders to place student needs at the center of all efforts. Real accountability in public schools requires that everyone—lawmakers, teachers, principals, parents and students—partner in accepting responsibility for improving student learning and opportunity in America.”

Van Roekel insists that in order for real, sustainable change to occur in public education, major work must be done to provide equity in our schools and address the growing inequality in opportunities and resources for students across our nation.

The group will examine what steps NEA can take to build further on the components of excellence in teacher evaluation and accountability identified in NEA’s Policy Statement on Teacher Evaluation and Accountability, which was approved at the 2011 Representative Assembly in Chicago.

The accountability group will engage stakeholders in the education and civil rights communities to help respond to the growing inequality in opportunities and resources for students across the nation. Inequality must be addressed in order for real, sustainable change to occur in the public education system.

2014 NEA RA Wil Okabe group of teachers