Mandated Testing Will Not Go Away

Administration To Hold Firm On No Child Left Behind Testing Requirements.

The Washington Post (1/10, Layton) reports that according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the Obama Administration has drawn a “line in the sand” regarding efforts to rewrite No Child Left Behind: “the federal government must continue to require states to give annual, standardized tests in reading and math.” The Post notes the stance “comes amidst growing anti-testing sentiment” led by an “odd alliance” of parents, teachers unions, and conservatives. The new chair of the Senate education panel, Sen. Lamar Alexander stated that “he is weighing whether to ditch the federal requirement to test,” adding that the Senate should ask be asking “Are there too many tests?” An aide to Sen. Patty Murray, also on the education panel, stated that the Senator will likely “push back strongly” on attempts to get rid of annual testing. The Post quotes ED spokeswoman Dorie Nolt saying of Duncan, “He will outline the need to widen and ensure opportunity for all students — the original purpose of this landmark law. He will call for quality preschool for every child, improved resources for schools and teachers, and better support for teachers and principals. He will also call on states and districts to limit unnecessary testing so that teachers can focus needed time on classroom learning.”

Alyson Klein writes at the Education Week (1/12) “Politics K-12” blog that according to a senior Administration official, Duncan will call for “adding more resources, ensuring educator excellence, and keeping the law’s historic focus on educational equity.” Duncan will also “remind folks” that ESEA “was, at its inception in 1965, and remains, at its heart, a civil rights law.” Klein quotes Nolt saying, “The secretary’s speech will make clear what we believe a new elementary and secondary education law should stand for and what we value as a country.” Moreover, the article reports, Duncan “won’t back away from” such Administration priorities as “investing in teacher quality—and teacher evaluations,” accountability measures analogous to the terms of states’ NCLB waivers, and “maintaining NCLB’s annual summative tests.” This article notes that Duncan is scheduled to deliver the speech Monday at Washington, DC’s Seaton Elementary School, and that his comments will also focus on “incorporating early-childhood education into the ESEA.”

The New York Daily News (1/12) reports that Duncan is expected to stress “President Obama’s push for universal pre-K, and could include possible reductions in some testing levels, but he is expected to maintain requirements for annual testing for third- to eighth-graders.”

Other media outlets that preview Duncan’s speech include the Los Angeles School Report (1/12) and the Politico (1/9, Emma) “Morning Education” blog.

CCSSO Calls For Preserving Testing Schedule. Alyson Klein writes at the Education Week (1/12) “Politics K-12” blog that the Council of Chief State School Officers is pushing back against a potential NCLB rewrite including “giving control over testing back to the states,” and is “urging congressional education leaders to pass a rewrite of the law that would keep the NCLB testing schedule intact, meaning that states would still be required to test students using statewide assessments in reading and math annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school.” However, the CCSSO would “move away” from “mandates on school improvement and accountability, and would give states more flexibility over their federal funding.”


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