Testing Bill of Rights Sees Thousands of Signatures in First 2 Weeks

As standardized testing season rolls in for students across the nation, educators are looking to take a balanced approach to testing for everyone involved. On March 24, the Center for American Progress (CAP) launched the Testing Bill of Rights, an online petition calling to reduce the number of tests and make testing more useful and less burdensome for students, parents and educators. In less than two weeks, the bill has reached over 11,000 signatures, with over one-third of signatures from the New York state, home of one of the biggest opt-out movements in the country.

Students, parents and teachers have expressed frustration with tests in recent years, and many have even opted out of statewide assessments altogether. In spite of opposition, states continue to implement standards that often result in overtesting students.

“Standardized tests can be a valuable tool for improving instruction when given sparingly and used effectively,” said Catherine Brown, vice president of education policy at CAP, in a prepared statement. “Parents have a right to be concerned with overtesting, but when students and parents opt-out, they miss an opportunity to identify persistent learning gaps that can stand in the way of college or career readiness.”

The Testing Bill of Rights responds to these issues and outlines more accurate ways to measure student learning. It is centered on the idea that tests should be used in support of instruction, not the other way around. Ultimately, the bill emphasizes that tests are meant to be a tool to identify learning gaps and areas that need improvement, so that every child has an opportunity to be ready for college and their careers.

CAP launched the Testing Bill of Rights in partnership with National Parent Teacher Association, the New York Urban League, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Higher Achievement New York, Educators 4 Excellence and America Achieves. The website and bill of rights are part of a larger campaign lead by CAP to “push schools, school districts and states toward better, fairer and fewer tests,” according to information from the organization. 

Sheri Rodman, New York fellowship manager of America Achieves, said she agrees that high-quality assessments are beneficial to the learning process that learning happens outside of tests. “Learning experiences like real-world projects, rich debate and scientific experiments should be the test preparation our children experience, not hours spent on drill and kill,” said Rodman in a prepared statement. “We have got to get this right for kids.”

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].