Listen Up, Senators: These Educators Want High Standards and Annual Testing in ESEA

With the 114th Congress’ first hearing on the ESEA reauthorization under our belts, it’s important to keep listening to the voices of those closest to the classroom—teachers. These educators have spoken out in favor of moving forward with annual testing, and I hope that the members on Capitol Hill are listening to them (and not just lobbyists). EdWeek: Teacher Voices on NCLB Veteran teacher Phylis Hoffman, a member of E4E, blogged about educator opinions on the ESEA reauthorization by reaching out to her own colleagues. The number one finding among her friends who teach in schools with students living in poverty? Those teachers want Common Core and annual testing represented in the federal education law.
I reached out to some other teacher friends who also taught or currently teach in schools who serve students living in poverty. Their number one area of consensus was keeping Common Core standards and annual testing [in ESEA]. The rationale is this: All public schools need to play by the same rulebook because the playing field is not level.
She also spoke with another former colleague, who agreed that her school had improved as a result of annual testing, and that seeing the annual assessment data from other schools was an additional benefit. Lee-Ann Stephens, MN Teacher of the Year This veteran and accomplished educator wants accountability every year, for every grade, for all of her students. She knows that schools can’t show that students are learning without this important data.
I teach in Minnesota, a state with some of the highest learning standards in the country—and one of the worst racial achievement disparities for black and brown children. So frankly, I want the feds to keep a hand on the steering wheel—until states demonstrate they know how to drive achievement, especially in our most challenged schools.
TNTP: A New Era for ESEA TNTP, a teacher group that, amongst other endeavors, recruits, trains and develops new teachers in hard-to-staff subjects and areas, weighed in by calling out the importance of annual testing and high standards.
Today, even critics of the law agree that a quality education should be defined by what students actually get out of their time in school. By requiring schools to assess and publicly report how much their students were learning every year, NCLB shined a spotlight on an uncomfortable truth: Too many schools were failing their students, especially their low-income and minority students. This transparency, combined with a requirement that states intervene in their poor performing schools, has been a catalyst for improvement.
Valentina Payne
Valentina Payne joined Bellwether Education Partners in 2021 as chief of staff to Andy Rotherham on the External Relations team. Prior to Bellwether, she spent seven years at brightbeam, where she most recently served as its chief growth officer, overseeing operations, finance, fundraising, and strategic growth of the organization.

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