Conference Challenges Testing

K-12 Testing

Six hundred parents, educators, advocates, attorneys, civil rights activists and education administrators from around the cuntry assembled at Columbia University Teachers College in New York City on Saturday, March 31, for a day of talks, workshops and discussions about “high-stakes” testing. Presentations included struggles as diverse as the legal challenge to the Texas TAAS test; parent organizing in Georgia, Masachusetts, Ohio, Virginia and Chicago; and educators implementing authentic assessment in small schools in New York City. Nearly 500 potential registrants were turned away due to lack of space, indicating the growing interest in this controversial issue.


The conference featured keynote addresses from Sen. Paul Wellstone (see related story) and noted educator Deborah Meier, as well as an opening panel which examined many of the problems caused by over-reliance on testing.


Topics discussed at the round-table and in the nearly three dozen workshops included: testing, retention and graduation; impact on school reform; litigation, media work and lobbying; the use of alternative assessments; and organizing for reform.


The conference was co-sponsored by the National Center on Restructuring Education, Schools and Teaching (NCREST) of Teachers College, FairTest, and the Center for Inquiry in Teaching and Learning. Funding for the conference was provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Annenberg Institute.


FairTest thanks, in particular, Betty Lou Whitford, the director of NCREST, as well as Diane Brown and other NCREST staff, for doing the major work to organize the event.