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Stop and Study High Stakes Testing!  

In 2000 the late Senator and former ADA President Paul Wellstone (D, MN) and Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) filed legislation that would have barred states and districts that receive federal education aid from using test scores as a “sole determinant” in making decisions about “the retention, graduation, tracking, or within-class ability grouping of an individual student.” In 2001 Sen. Wellstone proposed a bill that would authorize the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences to study the consequences of high-stakes testing for students, teachers and schools. It is most unfortunate that Congress failed to pass those measures.

Had members of Congress heeded Sen. Wellstone’s pleading to bar and study high stakes testing, America students, teachers and districts would not be suffering as they are now from the myriad of adverse affects of such testing. These include: “teaching for the test”; reduction of teaching time; elimination of arts, music, foreign languages and honors programs; unnecessary stress; huge costs; graduation delays; cheating and fraudulent data manipulation; loss of talented teachers; increased drop out rates…

Congress has opportunities this year to do what it should have done in 2001. U.S. Representatives Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) introduced with bipartisan cosponsors the "Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act. This measure would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and eliminate the requirement that students be tested against state academic content and achievement standards in mathematics and reading or language arts in each of grades three through eight. Rather than eliminating high stakes testing, HR-4172 would lessen the frequency of federally mandated to once per grade span: grades 3–5, 6–9 and 10–12.

ADA calls upon Congress to amend pass HR-4172 so that it would eliminate all federally mandated high stakes testing, and then to pass the amended bill.

The Network for Public Education (NPE) and others have called for Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, poor implementation of high-stakes testing in the nation’s elementary and secondary public schools and adverse affects of such testing on students, teachers, parents, schools and districts.

ADA joins in urging Congress to hold such hearings soon.

ADA urges Congress to do now what Sen. Wellstone asked Congress to do more than a decade ago– Stop and Study High Stakes Testing!