NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he wants to limit the amount of class time spent on testing students:
“We are pleased that President Obama has acknowledged that over-testing our students is counterproductive to a healthy school learning environment. His call to limit time spent on testing to no more than two percent of total instructional time is a good first step. However, that does not go far enough to address the negative impact that these high-stakes tests have on classroom instruction. The proposed two percent cap still would allow approximately 20 hours of testing, or nearly four full school days, and does nothing to prevent test preparation from eating up a much larger portion of the school year.
“Over the past year, NJEA and its partners have expressed deep concerns about the invasive nature of standardized testing in our public schools, and New Jersey policymakers have heard our concerns. The amount of time devoted to PARCC testing in New Jersey has been reduced, and the weight those tests are given in teacher evaluation has been decreased. We call on the U.S. Department of Education to further reduce the harmful intrusion of testing by removing its high-stakes impact and moving to grade-span testing.
“With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on the horizon, we call on Congress to focus less on testing and more on instructional resources for all students. When it comes to student success, we need real solutions that close opportunity gaps for students. National policymakers must consider the multiple out-of-school factors that affect student achievement, including poverty and lack of resources, and take real action to address those issues.
“Additionally, we must listen to the people who actually work in our schools and classrooms to develop quality, educator-driven assessments based on real learning, not one-size-fits-all tests that promote a culture of score-obsessed test preparation. Our nation’s teachers are career professionals and are our most valuable resource when it comes to preparing our children for the challenges of the future. We must trust them to lead so that we can create schools that promote success for every child.”