Feingold, Leahy Seek to Change Testing

September 17, 2007 1 min read

I closed my last post asking if testing and accountability would be the issues of the week. The next moment, my colleague, Alyson Klein, sends me a copy of this release.

I guess the answer is yes.

Today, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., introduced the Improving Student Testing Act of 2007. The bill would dramatically scale back the amount of testing and the types of assessments given under NCLB.

“There are a number of other issues that we need to address in the NCLB reauthorization,” Sen. Feingold said in his statement when introducing the bill in the Senate. “My bill seeks to address some of the top concerns I have heard about from constituents around the state related to testing.”

According to this summary, here’s how testing would change under the bill:

States would assess students for accountability purposes three times in their K-12 career, once during three separate grade spans (grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12). That compares to every year in grades 3-8 and once in high school under current law.

New grants would help states build testing systems that don’t rely on multiple-choice tests. The new tests would support accountability systems that “take into account the diverse academic needs of all students,” the summary says.

The bill would postpone the deadline for universal proficiency until Congress fully finances NCLB’s Title I program. The current deadline is the end of the 2013-14 school year.

The press release says several education groups support the bill, including the National Education Association, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals. Wisconsin groups representing teachers, principals, and superintendents also have endorsed it.

Sen. Feingold, who voted against NCLB in 2001, said that he would like to make other changes to NCLB. In his speech, he listed two: how NCLB addresses the needs of special education students and English-language learners and how NCLB intervenes in schools that fail to make AYP.

Maybe one of those issues will take over this blog some week. But this week looks as if its going to be about testing and accountability.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.