The need to get rid of or reduce government testing mandates for elementary and secondary education



Federal government involvement in our education system should be limited at best if it should be involved at all. Mandates by Washington have included requirements for standardized test to ensure students are prepared to enter society and be a valuable addition. Tests are only as good as those who create them and their individual political ideology. The requirement for these test have resulted in teachers instructing for the test not truly educating the future leaders of tomorrow.

Imposing standardized test on school systems is flawed in a few ways. One area involves the implementation of the concept that one size fits all which never works especially in our education system. Each individual in our school system has different capabilities and testing individuals with the same test may not reflect the knowledge of each student being tested. Some individuals do not do well on tests while others have excellent results. The current environment of teachers teaching the tests does not reflect a reliable outcome in the results. This statement is supported by the legislation being proposed which states: Reducing the frequency of federally required testing would allow more time for classroom instruction, decrease the burden on educational resources associated with testing, and move our public education system away from the practice of teaching to the test.

There is a proposed bi-partisan legislation in Congress to cut back on federally mandated testing which is a great idea and a good start in reducing government control of our education system. The title of the proposal is Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act. I agree there needs to be a method to properly evaluate the education being received by future leaders of our county. The current requirements and concept of imposing a number of tests is detrimental to our education system. The change being proposed through this legislation is grade span testing. “Under the legislation, instead of testing students in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, states would assess their students only in certain grade spans. That would reduce the number of federally mandated standardized tests from 14 to six.”

Teachers in our school systems across the country should have a learning environment for the subjects being taught not devoting large amounts of time in teaching tests which skews the results. Anytime you actually teach a test the results are improved and that being said it is not a reflection of what a student has learned in their specific grade. The focus needs to be on the subjects which are important for any individual in our school system to learn and if the proper education is provided test results to some degree will improve. This however depends on the capability of each individual student. Students will have areas where they do well and areas where they do poorly. The key is to ensure they have the basic knowledge of the subjects which are important to succeed in society.

There needs to be new methods to actually reflect the learning achieved for each student given their individual capabilities. Students should not be measured against each other but measure against where they were in their knowledge of subjects compared to how much they have improved.

According to information regarding this legislative effort the National Education Association immediately endorsed this change in the current standardized testing environment. The vision, mission and values of this organization are to be commended. The code of ethics of this organization also exemplifies the focus of this organization. Two basic principles are involved. The first is a commitment to the student and the second is a commitment to the profession. With regards to the commitment to the student under principle 1 the following is taken from their website:

“The educator strives to help each student realize his or her potential as a worthy and effective member of society. The educator therefore works to stimulate the spirit of inquiry, the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, and the thoughtful formulation of worthy goals.”

The commitment to the profession under principle II the following is taken from their website:

“The education profession is vested by the public with a trust and responsibility requiring the highest ideals of professional service.

In the belief that the quality of the services of the education profession directly influences the nation and its citizens, the educator shall exert every effort to raise professional standards, to promote a climate that encourages the exercise of professional judgment, to achieve conditions that attract persons worthy of the trust to careers in education, and to assist in preventing the practice of the profession by unqualified persons.”

The vision, mission and core values along with other principles of the organization are equally important in our education system. This information is provided below:

Vision
Our vision is a great public school for every student.

Mission
Our mission is to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.

Core Values
These principles guide our work and define our mission:

Equal Opportunity. We believe public education is the gateway to opportunity. All students have the human and civil right to a quality public education that develops their potential, independence, and character.

A Just Society. We believe public education is vital to building respect for the worth, dignity, and equality of every individual in our diverse society.

Democracy. We believe public education is the cornerstone of our republic. Public education provides individuals with the skills to be involved, informed, and engaged in our representative democracy.

Professionalism. We believe that the expertise and judgment of education professionals are critical to student success. We maintain the highest professional standards, and we expect the status, compensation, and respect due all professionals.

Partnership. We believe partnerships with parents, families, communities, and other stakeholders are essential to quality public education and student success.

Collective Action. We believe individuals are strengthened when they work together for the common good. As education professionals, we improve both our professional status and the quality of public education when we unite and advocate collectively.

NEA also believes every student in America, regardless of family income or place of residence, deserves a quality education. In pursuing its mission, NEA has determined that we will focus the energy and resources of our 3.2 million members on improving the quality of teaching, increasing student achievement and making schools safer, better places to learn.

With the support of this organization and its values and commitment it is hoped that the proposed change to mandated testing requirements from the government will be altered for the betterment of each student.

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