AFT campaigns to end testing fixation
STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 11/29/2012, 4:03 p.m.
The campaign against "excessive testing" continues for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Titled "Learning is More Than a Test Score," the anti-excessive testing campaign will include a policy agenda that AFT members would prefer "taking into account what we learn from teachers, parents and others," according to a statement.
"Public education should be obsessed with high-quality teaching and learning, not high-stakes testing," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "Tests have a role to play, but today's fixation with them is undermining what we need to do to give kids a challenging and well-rounded education and to fairly measure teachers' performance."
The AFT said they wanted to de-emphasize testing and ensure that instruction includes the arts and physical education. They also wanted evaluations based on the Common Core State Standards.
"As we push for better, higher standards in education, we must ensure that teaching to high standards doesn't devolve into teaching to low-
level tests," said Weingarten.
According to the AFT, the "over-emphasis on high-stakes tests has forced teachers to spend an excessive amount of time on test preparation, actual testing and data collection at the expense of more engaging instruction."
The union said they're working with their affiliates around the country on state legislation that concerns the appropriate use of tests and collecting and analyzing data on how much time and money is spent on testing and test preparation. The AFT has had thousands sign their petition that calls for a "more balanced approach" to public education by prioritizing high-quality instruction informed by appropriate and useful assessments.
In Texas, 870 school districts (or 85 percent of all state districts) recently passed a resolution saying that high-stakes standardized tests are "strangling" public schools. Some evidence of that has been displayed over the recent years, which AFT wants to present. In Monroe County, N.Y., a superintendent testified that during the first two months of school, over 20,000 pretests were administered to 4,000 students. In Texas, close to 45 days of each school year are spent on test-related activities.
"The public gets it, and opposition to the testing fixation is increasing," said Weingarten.