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AFT Releases Statement Approving Annual Testing Without Ties to Evaluation

AFT Releases Statement Approving Annual Testing Without Ties to Evaluation

The American Federation of Teachers announced that it wants Congress to keep annual testing, but with a price. 

The AFT released a joint statement with the Center for American Progress stating that annual testing is fine, "but only for informational purposes, not to determine how teachers and schools are performing," according to an article on WashingtonPost.com. 

According to the article, "for that purpose, the union wants to use grade span testing — where students are tested once in grades 3 to 5, 6 though 8 and once in high school."

"We propose to keep annual tests so parents have valid information about their children’s progress but want to ensure that any school accountability a system has a broader array of indicators that fully captures how our children are learning,” said CAP President Neera Tanden.

Testing, the article said, "has become a central issue as Congress begins work to rewrite No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal education law that was due for reauthorization in 2007. Sen. Lamar Alexander [R-Tenn.], chair of the Senate education panel, has said he is determined to get a bipartisan bill to the Senate floor by the end of February and has scheduled the first hearing Jan. 21 on the topic of testing."

"“The federal government requires 17 tests (over the course of a student’s K-12 career),” Alexander said Tuesday. “Almost every parent, almost every public school I know is asking ‘Are there too many tests? I want to ask the question. I want to learn from those outside the Senate: Should we keep the same tests or give states more flexibility?”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, according to the article, "insisted that Congress maintain the annual testing requirement, saying it was an important tool to force states and schools to pay attention to historically disadvantaged students. Under Duncan, states have been persuaded to use annual test scores to make personnel decisions about teachers and identify struggling schools for intervention."

“More data doesn’t necessarily mean better data, and it doesn’t ensure that data is being used to actually help improve learning,” AFT President Randi Weingarten said. “Annual tests, if they are reliable and diagnostic, provide important information for students, parents, teachers and schools. In my experience, struggling schools want to do the right thing and improve, but they need supports not sanctions. In focusing on grade-span testing for accountability purposes, similar to what happens now in high school, we can make sure that these schools are doing what they need to do. But even these grade-span tests would be one component of a robust system of multiple measures.”

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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