NYSUT’s campaign against over-testing is reinforced by the findings of a new national report released today by the American Federation of Teachers, which finds excessive testing undermines the quality education all children deserve.
AFT's report detailing the instructional and financial costs of the national obsession with standardized testing is eye-popping: Test prep and testing at an unnamed Eastern School District absorbed a month and a half of full school days in 2012-13. Just think about that and do the math, AFT President Randi Weingarten told educators at the union's TEACH conference. That lost time could add up to an entire class period for grades 6-11 across the school year. NYSUT’s “Tell It Like It Is” campaign and parent petition underscored the costs to students, who lose out on essential instructional time when districts sacrifice a full rich curriculum to test prep.
NYSUT Vice President Maria Neira said the AFT's report is right on target and consistent with NYSUT's testimony last year before a state legislative panel and the state's Education Reform Commission about the state's growing obsession with testing. Neira said the AFT's findings reinforce the need for NYSUT's Truth About Testing legislative proposal, in which the State Education Department would be required to quantify how much time and money is being consumed by standardized testing administration.
"Testing More, Teaching Less: What America's Obsession with Student Testing Costs in Money and Lost Instructional Time" is the first study of its kind since No Child Left Behind became law in 2001, when state standards and assessments to measure student and school performance narrowed curricula.
"The current accountability system has led districts to fixate on testing and sanctions, has squeezed out vital parts of the curriculum that are not subjected to testing, and has sacrificed much-needed learning time," Weingarten said. "That is not what high-performing countries do, and it is not what the United States should do."
Neira noted parents and administrators share NYSUT's concern about testing. In response to NYSUT's call to action, more than 10,000 parents signed an online petition and numerous school boards have approved resolutions urging the state to reduce the over-reliance on standardized testing.
"We need to refocus on the true purpose of assessment: to inform teaching," Neira said. "Cutting test prep and testing time could restore significant minutes for instruction and free up much-needed funding for initiatives that work."