Parents Across America and Fairtest Fight ESEA/NCLB Commitment to Annual Standardized Tests

Today is Parents Across America and Fairtest’s “National Day of Action,” which is devoted to lobbying U.S. senators to eliminate annual standardized testing in the ESEA/NCLB rewrite just unveiled yesterday.  (Here’s a good overview from EdWeek.) The compromise bill, brokered by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, maintains annual standardized testing but anti-accountability folk want grade-span tests, i.e., once in elementary, middle, and high school.

Here’s Fairtest’s script:
Tell your Senators:
Hello. I'm [your name], calling from [your town]. I'm calling to ask Senator [name] to support changes to No Child Left Behind that will promote a saner and less intrusive approach to public school testing. Specifically, I urge [him/her] to support a switch to testing once each in elementary, middle and high school, and to remove high-stakes consequences from federally required standardized tests. Both these measures will help address the current over-emphasis on testing at the expense of learning.
Parents Across America, which counts among its affiliates Save Our Schools-NJ, intends to send a broader message today, asking members to express opposition to teacher evaluations tied to student outcomes as well as the expansion of charter schools:
We further ask for your support for enhanced local control in deciding how to evaluate teachers and schools: we oppose the use of standardized test scores as major determinants of teacher or school evaluations. 
We believe in supporting the public schools in our communities. Research shows that these schools generally outperform charter schools while serving a larger proportion of special needs students. We oppose programs that take scarce funds away from our neighborhood schools in favor of expanding charter schools or providing voucher funds for private schools which are not accountable to the community and have not proven to be better alternatives.
For counterpoint, see Merryl Tisch, N.Y.’s Board of Regents Chancellor, who writes eloquently about the importance of annual standardized testing. (Nota bene: Tisch overstates the support of "national teachers unions" in the last paragraph: AFT's Randi Weingarten and NEA's Lily Eskelson Garcia  are fighting against annual standardized testing. More locally, NJEA overtly urges parents to "opt out" their kids.)
It used to be easy to ignore the most vulnerable students. Without assessments, it was easy to ignore the achievement gap for African-American and Latino students. Without an objective measure of their progress, it was easy to deny special education students and English Language Learners the extra resources they need. Obviously we still need to do more for those students, but now is not the time to put blinders back on. 
Without a comparable measure of student achievement, we risk losing track of the progress of all of our students in all of our schools. This risk applies not only to students of color, urban and rural students, and students with special learning needs. Many students from affluent districts do not make the year-to-year progress necessary in today’s world and need early support to get back on track. It’s far better to find that out while they’re still in the classroom than wait until they’re out of school and faced with real world challenges in college or the work place without the skills they need to overcome those challenges. 
There is broad consensus on this point. There are very few times when national business organizations, national civil rights groups, and the national teachers union all agree, but these groups have all gone on record in the past few months calling for the federal government to maintain annual testing. All students must continue to count.

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