Sunday, November 22, 2009

Responsible testing ?

FEINGOLD-REQUESTED STUDY SHOWS TESTING MANDATES IN NCLB MAY PROMOTE NEGATIVE EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES
GAO Study Shows Problematic Practices Like Teaching to the Test and Curriculum Narrowing Happening More Frequently in High-Poverty and High-Minority Schools

Washington, D.C. – A government study released earlier this week, originally requested by U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, has found that problematic educational practices are occurring more frequently in some high-poverty and high-minority schools across the country. Feingold requested the report to examine teaching practices related to the No Child Left Behind education law. The report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was the result of legislation Feingold successfully passed through the Senate in 2007 requiring the GAO to study the techniques being used to prepare students to meet state standards and achieve on state standardized tests. Feingold released the following statement after the report was issued:

“This report reaffirms my concern that the No Child Left Behind Law’s one-size-fits-all approach and heavy focus on high-stakes testing is causing problems in schools, particularly schools that serve our most disadvantaged students. The study found that problematic teaching practices like teaching to the test and spending more time on test preparation are happening more frequently in high-poverty and high-minority schools, many of which already have less access to high-quality teachers and resources than more affluent schools. While responsible testing is an important part of measuring achievement and holding schools accountable, it should not come at the expense of providing students a well-rounded education that prepares them for success later in life.


“GAO did find that some schools have responded to NCLB in more positive ways such as lengthening the school day and creating more opportunities for parental involvement in schools. As Congress prepares to undertake the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, we should support these more positive interventions. But Congress should also look seriously at the troubling findings in this report about the toll that high-stakes testing is taking on disadvantaged students. That is why I am pushing two key reforms of the federal testing mandate - supporting the development of higher quality tests and ensuring students and schools are measured by more than test scores. These are objectives the Obama administration supports and ones I will work to include in whatever education reform legislation Congress passes.”

A copy of the GAO report can be accessed here: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-18.
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