Letter to the Editor: The Burden of Testing

VBEA President Trenace Riggs had a letter to the editor published in the Virginian-Pilot on February 21st, 2014, writing about the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the burden of testing. Here is her letter:

Even though I retired three years ago after teaching for 37 years in Virginia Beach and Norfolk public schools, I haven’t forgotten how testing has damaged the education of our children in this country.

Congress is debating the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, otherwise known as No Child Left Behind, and the steps it takes are going to have a real impact on students.

This is a chance for a long-overdue lightening of the testing burden currently facing our children. When No Child Left Behind became law in 2001, it mandated six standardized tests. Today, that number has grown to 17. And those are just the tests the federal government requires it doesn’t include all the tests required by states and localities. How much valuable learning time can we afford to sacrifice?

It’s not just the number of tests that’s the problem. The tests create a pressure-packed environment for students and teachers. Students feel the weight of tests that can determine their futures, and teachers feel the burden of having their professional competence judged by misleading numbers. How much heartache and anxiety should we encourage in our schools?

We need a better, more accurate and more just system of accountability one that replaces a ‘one-size-fits-all’ system of testing with one that encourages equal opportunity for all our young people, no matter their zip code.