States Rethink Testing Systems


A new bill introduced last week by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, a member of the House education committee, would offer a federal grant program to states that want to consider the number and type of tests they are offering in order to improve assessments. Congress has recently been discussing the option of decreasing the number of tests required under the No Child Left Behind Act, which calls for annual tests in reading and math for grades 3-8 and once again in high school.

With this legislation, states could use existing funds for testing to make their own assessment systems better by getting clearer results out to teachers and parents faster, therefore giving teachers more time to analyze and respond to the data.

The money could also be used to review state and local testing and get rid of tests that are old or unnecessary. The state testing audits could help determine whether any other test reductions are needed.

This approach is much more limited than other legislation introduced earlier this year. One bill would allow states to assess students in certain grades only and the other would change the schedule of testing so students would be tested in math or reading every other year instead of every year.

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