Overhauling Assessment to Improve Teaching and Learning:
New Opportunities under the Every Student Succeeds Act
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) creates valuable opportunities to replace standardized tests with performance assessments. These can promote the engagement, creativity and critical thinking skills that have been stifled by teaching to standardized tests.
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the latest version of the long-standing Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It replaces the widely despised “No Child Left Behind.” The new law presents both opportunities and dangers for the testing resistance and reform movement.
"Time to Abolish High School Graduation Tests" explains in two pages how and why mandated high school exit tests damage students and the quality of education. These tests deny diplomas to tens of thousands of students, disproportionately children of color, immigrants or youth with special needs; they do not improve college or career prospects but feed the school-to-prison pipeline; new Common Core tests are likely to increase the dropout rate; and more.
Across the nation, resistance to test overuse and misuse reached unprecedented levels in spring 2015. The rapidly growing movement built on significant test opposition unleashed in 2013-14. The resistance to standardized exam overkill erupted in more states with far more participants, and it won notable victories.
Resistance to the overuse and misuse of standardized tests is expanding rapidly across the nation (Guisbond, 2014). The movement’s goals are to roll back testing overkill, eliminate damaging high stakes, and create an assessment system that supports teaching and learning while providing useful information to parents, communities and states. Some states have responded to the uprising by temporarily pausing some sanctions for teachers and schools.
The new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) does not require states to have educator evaluation systems. If a state chooses to do so, it does not have to include student test scores.To win federal Race to the Top grants or waivers from No Child Left Behind (NCLB), most states adopted teacher and principal evaluation systems based heavily on student test scores. Many educators have resisted these unproven policies.