Petition garners more than 11,000 signatures ahead of schedule; more than one-third of signatories live in New York state, the home of one of the biggest opt-out movements in the country.
Washington, D.C. — Less than two weeks after its launch, the Testing Bill of Rights petition is gaining momentum, garnering more than 11,000 signatures–one-third from people who hail from New York state. The Testing Bill of Rights, online at TestBetter.org, is an effort from educators, civil rights organizations, and education groups to articulate a middle ground on assessments so that tests are used in support of instruction, not the other way around. Launching the Testing Bill of Rights on March 24, the Center for American Progress announced a goal of reaching 10,000 signatures in one month–a hurdle it has cleared in less than two weeks.
“As spring testing season begins in New York and across the country, thousands of parents are speaking up in favor of a balanced approach to testing. Parents have a right to be concerned with overtesting, but when students and parents opt out, they miss an opportunity to identify and address persistent learning gaps,” said Catherine Brown, Vice President of Education Policy at CAP. “Moving to better, fairer, and fewer assessments is a key part of ensuring that all students can be ready for college or career.”
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, or NASSP; Higher Achievement New York, or HANY; Educators 4 Excellence, or E4E; and America Achieves. This effort aims to help move toward better, fairer, and fewer tests and to make testing more useful and less burdensome for parents, students, and educators. It arrives at an opportune moment for states and school districts to revisit their approaches to testing, as many parents and students have felt real frustration with tests in recent years. At the same time, the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, preserves annual tests in order to identify and target resources to the most at-risk communities and students. This past weekend, the Rev. Al Sharpton delivered remarks encouraging parents to opt in to statewide assessments in order to readily identify and close learning gaps.
The Testing Bill of Rights outlines the need to accurately measure student learning in a way that is useful for parents and teachers and less burdensome for students. It is also centered around the idea that tests should serve as a tool to identify learning gaps and areas of improvement in order to ensure that every child has an opportunity to be ready for college or the workforce. As states continue to transition to higher standards and as a new generation of high-quality tests comes to fruition, more needs to be done at the state and local levels to address overtesting and to provide greater transparency about the purpose and benefits of each test.
Rather than opting out of such assessments altogether, the focus should be on ensuring that all students and families get an accurate and honest assessment of their college and career readiness, while making sure that such tests are less burdensome for students and teachers. Test results should be used to inform instruction; provide parents and communities with information about whether students are working at grade level or struggling; and allow teachers to diagnose and help their students.
The launch of the website and the bill of rights is part of a broader campaign led by CAP to push schools, school districts, and states toward better, fairer, and fewer tests. Learn more about the Testing Bill of Rights at TestBetter.org.
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at email@example.com or 202.478.6331.