Back-To-School Report Tallies 2016 Testing Reform Victories
for further information:
Lisa Guisbond (617) 959-2371
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
For release Wednesday, September 8, 2016
BACK-TO-SCHOOL REPORT TALLIES 2016 TESTING REFORM VICTORIES --
FEWER EXAMS, LOWER STAKES, STRONGER LEARNING MEASURES;
NEW FEDERAL LAW OPENS DOOR TO BETTER ASSESSMENT SYSTEMS
As schools open around the nation, a new report tallies the victories recently won by the grassroots testing resistance and reform movement. Assessment Reform Victories 2016: Less Testing, Lower Stakes, Better Learning Measures was produced by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest).
Among the pattern of victories reported by FairTest:
- Fewer states require exit exams;
- Many states delinked teacher evaluations from test scores;
- Dozens of jurisdictions cut back testing requirements;
- Policy-makers began to replace standardized exams with assessments that better support teaching and learning.
For example, the number of jurisdictions requiring graduation tests is now the lowest since the mid-1980s, according to FairTest. At one time, more than half the states required these exams. Now, only 15 do. Alaska, Arizona, California, and Georgia awarded diplomas retroactively to students who failed tests but completed other graduation requirements.
Responding to public pressure, both states and districts cut back testing volume. Kansas slashed the number of test questions students must answer by 60%. Georgia eliminated eight “Milestone” exams in math, science and reading. Tennessee cut testing requirements by 30%. Dallas dropped one-third of its Assessments of Course Performance, and Jefferson County, Kentucky, shrunk district-mandated exams by 35%.
FairTest projects that the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will accelerate the trend. New Hampshire is pursuing the “Performance Assessment for Competency Education” project, which allows students multiple ways to demonstrate knowledge and skills. Other states are likely to follow suit under ESSA’s “innovative assessment” pilot. California, Idaho and other states are developing accountability systems to assess a range of school quality indicators instead of simply ranking districts by test scores.
The FairTest report concluded: “Activist parents, students and educators have good reason to be energized by these victories . . . To build the political power needed to win more significant legislative and policy changes, the nationwide assessment reform movement must expand and diversify. A tipping point in the battle against standardized testing overuse and misuse is on the horizon.”
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- Assessment Reform Victories 2016 is online at http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/AssessmentReformVictoriesReport2016.pdf
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