by David Safier
As participants left the final workshops at the Network For Public Education Conference at University of Texas, Austin, we walked into a press conference in the building's entry room organized by NPE leaders Diane Ravitch, Robin Hiller and Anthony Cody calling for "Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing in the nation’s K-12 public schools."
It's a valid suggestion. Members of Congress need to learn more about high stakes testing which determines school curriculum, takes up an inordinate amount of classroom time and is of questionable educational value. Bring a few cameras and some news coverage into the hearings, and the nation can begin a much needed conversation about the growing emphasis on testing in our schools.
Here's the NPE Media Release.
AUSTIN, TX The Network for Public Education (NPE) closed out its first National Conference here with a call for Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing in the nation’s K-12 public schools.
In a Closing Keynote address to some 500 attendees, education historian and NYU professor Diane Ravitch, an NPE founder and Board President, accused current education policies mandated by the federal government, such as President Barak Obama’s Race to the Top, of making high-stakes standardized testing “the purpose of education, rather than a measure of education.”
The call for Congressional hearings — addressed to Senators Lamar Alexander and Tom Harkin of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, and Representatives John Kline and George Miller of the House Education and Workforce Committee — states that high-stakes testing in public schools has led to multiple unintended consequences that warrant federal scrutiny. NPE asks Congressional leaders to pursue eleven potential inquiries, including, “Do the tests promote skills our children and our economy need?” and “Are tests being given to children who are too young?”
“We have learned some valuable lessons about the unintended costs of test-driven reform over the past decade. Unfortunately, many of our nation’s policies do not reflect this,” stated NPE Executive Director Robin Hiller. “We need Congress to investigate and take steps to correct the systematic overuse of testing in our schools.”
“Our system is being rendered less intelligent by the belief that ‘rigor’ equates to ever more difficult tests,” warned NPE Treasurer Anthony Cody. “True intelligence in the 21st century depends on creativity and problem-solving, and this cannot be packaged into a test. We need to invest in classrooms, in making sure teachers have the small class sizes, resources, and support they need to succeed. We need to stop wasting time and money in the pursuit of test scores.”