FairTest faxed this letter to all Senators asking them to oppose NCLB-lite amendment and support grade span testing.

July 15, 2015

Dear Senator,

FairTest stands with many grassroots civil rights, parent, educator, and community groups in opposition to continuing the harmful consequences imposed by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). 

Therefore, we urge you to vote NO on Amendment #2241 (Murphy, et al.) to the Every Child Achieves Act reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB. This amendment will limit the ability of states to make the changes needed to move away from school systems controlled and constrained by standardized testing.  Overall, it would restore much of the failed test-and-punish strategy of “No Child Left Behind,” which majorities of the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and American public are committed to replacing.

Specifically, we oppose these provisions:

·         Amendment #2241 sets up a system for identifying schools that requires dominant weighting to state tests while potentially doubling the amount of mandated statewide assessment.  

·         Creating a test-dominant system prevents a state from implementing a balanced, comprehensive accountability system that includes inputs and school processes along with outcomes. For example, it would cripple California’s promising community-based accountability system, which is supported by civil rights, education, parent and community organizations.

·         It creates multiple ways for schools to fail, replicating the damaging requirements of NCLB.

·         The amendment also allows the Secretary of Education to dictate the weighting states give components of the state accountability system to ensure they are test-dominant and inflexible.

The use of tests and accountability to control education under No Child Left Behind has been a failure. Rates of improvement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were slower under NCLB than under the previous ESEA, which only mandated testing in three grades and left accountability up to the states. Further, schooling has narrowed to an unbalanced focus on test-prep for high-stakes standardized exams in reading and math. Parents, students and teachers across the nation are revolting against these consequences. The damage has been near universal but is much worse in schools serving large proportions of students of color and low-income children.

FairTest supports identifying the lowest performing schools and providing assistance to them.  But it is time to end accountability that limits public education to what can be measured by statewide tests. ECAA can help states make this transformation, but it is critical that you vote NO on Amendment #2241.

For similar reasons, we also urge you to vote YES on Amendment #2129 (Sen. Tester) to allow states to return to the more successful period prior to NCLB and test in only three grades.

I would be pleased to discuss this with you. You can reach me at 617-477-9792 or monty@fairtest.org.

 

Monty Neill, Ed.D.

Executive Director