Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.
Legislative Memo

Memo: NSEA Supports Senate Bill 83

Senate Bill 83 would authorize the Nevada Department of Education to temporarily waive or pause mandated student assessments if the United States Department of Education has waived or paused similar requirements.
sb83
Published: 02/03/2021 Last Updated: 02/23/2021

In our history, there have been few more challenging times than the one we find ourselves in right now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

NSEA whole-heartedly supported SB83 as introduced. In light of the recent guidance issued by the US Department of Education, we believe NDE should exercise the limited flexibility offered to suspend high stakes school rankings. We further believe SB83 should be amended to ask the US Department of Education to reconsider their decision not to offer waivers from testing requirements this school year.

High-stakes standardized tests administered during the global health crisis should not determine a student’s future, evaluate educators, or punish schools; nor should they come at the expense of precious learning time that students could be spending with their educators. Over-testing has been a longstanding concern of classroom educators, as decades of standardized tests have shifted the focus in education away from student learning toward a culture of high stakes testing. Over the last two sessions, NSEA worked with this committee to reduce the burden of standardized testing on our students and educators. This included helping to pass a 2017 bill from former Senator Woodhouse to audit and streamline the amount of time and resources spent on state tests. While small changes have been made over the last several years, the current crisis calls for a more substantive overhaul of state testing requirements.

NSEA has consistently expressed our concern that existing policy on student assessments, teacher evaluations, and school star ratings compromises the safe operation of schools during the COVID-19 crisis. These mechanisms have failed to foster the improvements in either achievement or student engagement they were intended to deliver. With a continued reliance on these old schemes, students and educators have counter incentives to come to school when sick; to teach to tests instead of teaching and reinforcing health and safety; and to maximize numbers and time in classrooms, even when that may be outside of health and safety guidelines. Further, drastic improvement in testing results during this most difficult school year, like the MAP reading results in the early grades, highlight just how ridiculous it is to conduct these tests during a pandemic.

This school year, educators across the state have responded in a diversity of ways depending on their district and the status of the COVID-19 crisis in their communities. Some are back at their school building offering in-person instruction. Others are working in hybrid models, juggling in-person learning with distance learning opportunities. Many others, including in Clark County, are working to create meaningful education experiences through full distance-learning. With districts tailoring their response to meet the unique challenges they face in their own communities, the state’s one-size-fits-all approach to standardized tests misses the mark of this moment. Suspension of elaborate sorting and rating mechanisms, including federal, state, and district-mandated assessments is the smart thing to do.

Original Memo

The Nevada State Education Association represents a majority of educators across the state, with members in every Nevada school district including teachers, other licensed education professionals, and education support professionals (ESPs) who provide vital services to students in Nevada’s public education system. In NSEA’s 120-year history, there have been few more challenging times than the one we find ourselves in right now with the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate the work of this committee and the legislature during this time of crisis.

NSEA whole-heartedly supports SB83, authorizing the Department of Education to temporarily waive or pause mandated student assessments.

Over-testing has been a longstanding concern of classroom educators, as decades of standardized tests have shifted the focus in education away from student learning toward a culture of high stakes testing. Over the last two sessions, NSEA worked with this committee to reduce the burden of standardized testing on our students and educators. This included helping to pass a 2017 bill from former Senator Woodhouse to audit and streamline the amount of time and resources spent on state tests. While small changes have been made over the last several years, the current crisis calls for a more substantive overhaul of state testing requirements.

NSEA has consistently expressed our concern that the existing policy on student assessments, teacher evaluations, and school star ratings compromises the safe operation of schools during the COVID-19 crisis. These mechanisms have failed to foster the improvements in either achievement or student engagement they were intended to deliver. With a continued reliance on these old schemes, students and educators have counter incentives to come to school when sick; to teach to tests instead of teaching and reinforcing health and safety; and to maximize numbers and time in classrooms, even when that may be outside of health and safety guidelines. Further, the drastic improvement in testing results during this most difficult school year, like the MAP reading results presented to the State Board of Education during their November meeting highlight just how ridiculous it is to conduct these tests during a pandemic.

This school year, educators across the state have responded in a diversity of ways depending on their district and the status of the COVID-19 crisis in their communities. Some are back at their school building offering in-person instruction. Others are working in hybrid models, juggling in-person learning with distance learning opportunities. Many others, including in Clark County, are working to create meaningful educational experiences through full distance-learning. With districts tailoring their response to meet the unique challenges they face in their own communities, the state’s one-size-fits-all approach to standardized tests misses the mark of this moment. Suspension of elaborate sorting and rating mechanisms, including federal, state, and district-mandated assessments is the smart thing to do.

Question about this bill? Message Us!

Do you have a question about this particular bill? Send NSEA an email and our Government Relations Chair will get back to you shortly!

Become a Grassroots Task Force Ambassador!

Support NSEA Strategic Goals in Membership and Politics by increasing active participants, as measured by participation in letter-writing campaigns, social media promotion, rally attendance, and collective action participation.
Logo

Ensuring a High Quality Public Education For Every Student

NSEA has been the voice of educators for over 120 years. We represent teachers, education support professionals, and other licensed professionals throughout the state of Nevada.