A top concern of classroom educators has been too many standardized tests shifting the focus in the classroom away from student learning toward a culture of high-stakes testing. NSEA has been actively working to reduce the burden of standardized testing for a number of years. During the 2017 Legislation Session, NSEA worked with Senator Woodhouse on SB303 to require the Department of Education to audit student assessments in order to streamline and make student assessment more efficient. While passed with bipartisan support, the audit was not completed until over a year after its due date.
The final report did not follow the requirements contained within SB303 and was written with a predetermined result in mind that is out of line with the realities in our classrooms.
However, the audit did contain some important information about the amount of time educators spend administering assessments, with 84% of District Test Directors stating too much time was spent on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC). Responses from those responsible for administration of assessments highlight the continued need streamline student assessments. Responses from educators in audit focus groups and NSEA internal surveys have been less kind to standardized testing.
While small changes to required student assessments have been made over the last several years, a more substantive overhaul of state testing requirements is merited. SB353 would require the Department of Education to look at the benefits, costs, and any inefficiencies in student assessments, and adopt regulations to prescribe limits on the time and number of student assessments. We hope the current Department takes this task more seriously this time, so we can spend less time testing and more time teaching and learning.