Please Stop the Punitive High Stakes Testing! That was the message that poured into the inboxes of congressional staffers working on rewriting the No Child Left Behind Act Saturday morning ... more than 800 times. And counting.
Hundreds of people wrote into the congressional aides asking them to:
1) Roll back the amount of federally-required high-stakes standardized testing, to give students more time to learn and teachers to teach. 2) Stop using test scores to punish students, teachers, and public schools. Before the 2001 No Child Left Behind legislation, federal law required students to be tested just once in reading and math during each of three grade spans corresponding to elementary, middle, and high school (3-5, 6-9, and 10-12). We should return to that sensible approach."
The emails, which went on to to give other arguments in favor of grade-span testing, were signed by folks from around New Jersey, not a particular advocacy group. So it’s unclear who organized the campaign. (But it seems to have been someone in the Garden State?) UPDATE: Save Our Schools NJ confirmed it is the source of the emails.
Did it work? Actually, it seemed to have made at least one aide pretty cranky. If you think a flood of 800-plus emails are enough to stop a government-supplied Blackberry in its tracks, you’re right. With an NCLB rewrite set to rocket through Congress over the next few months, congressional staff are burning the midnight--and early Saturday morning--oil. So they kinda need their devices to function in order to do their jobs well, the aide said.
“This is bullying,” the aide said. “We’re trying to be really thoughtful on a range of issues, including assessments, in a really short time frame. We’re doing the absolute best we can. And this makes it even harder.”
Irking staffers wasn’t the intention, a volunteer for Save Our Schools NJ said in an email.
We just wanted them to pass on to the Senators/Representatives they work with that the grassroots are paying attention and want less testing and no punitive stakes associated with the testing. ... Congress needs to listen to the people."
UPDATE: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, responded to this flood of emails on Twitter:
@PoliticsK12 - when people are shut out, thankfully they find ways to have voice-being shut out is the prob, the emails are part of our dem
-- Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) February 9, 2015