January 2013 Issue
December 18, 2012

AFT: Focus should be on learning, not test scores

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

In a national extension of NYSUT's messaging and statewide "Tell it like it is" campaign to counter the obsession with standardized testing, the American Federation of Teachers has launched the second phase of its "Learning is more than a test score" initiative to de-emphasize testing and focus instead on student learning.

The AFT's campaign includes a website, a toolkit and other items advocating for an end to the over-reliance on testing and calling for the restoration of teaching and learning to its proper role at the forefront of the education process.

The AFT will be working with affiliates, communities, school districts and states to help ensure that testing does not encroach on the instructional time students need to learn how to think critically and creatively.

In the next few months, the AFT will convene leaders and external experts to look at promising practices and develop a road map of policy alternatives to the testing fixation. The Albert Shanker Institute is planning a Good Schools Conference in March on this topic.

Earlier this year, AFT approved a comprehensive resolution and online petition stating that testing should inform, not impede, teaching and learning.

"Public education should be obsessed with high-quality teaching and learning, not high-stakes testing," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "Tests have a role to play, but today's fixation with them is undermining what we need to do to give kids a challenging and well-rounded education and to fairly measure teachers' performance."

Weingarten cited several disturbing examples of excessive testing, including a Monroe County superintendent who testified that in the first two months of school, more than 20,000 pre-tests were administered to 4,000 students.

For more information on AFT's campaign, or to sign the petition, go to www.learningismore.org.