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Testimony Today: Moratorium on High-Stakes Testing

Max Page and his daughter Ruthie plan to testify today before the Joint Legislative Committee on Education. Both believe the Commonwealth needs to take a time out from high-stakes testing. Credit: M. Page.
Max Page and his daughter Ruthie plan to testify today before the Joint Legislative Committee on Education. Both believe the Commonwealth needs to take a time out from high-stakes testing. Credit: M. Page.
June 11, 2015

BOSTON – Lawmakers are expected to get an earful today on the issue of standardized testing, and whether the Commonwealth needs to take a three-year time-out on high stakes tests.

Ruthie Page Weinbaum, a sixth-grader from Amherst, says if you add up the time spent preparing for and taking standardized tests from just the third to the sixth grade, it totals several months of classroom time.

"I'm asking lawmakers to understand that we already take so many other tests at school, a lot of people have been wearing stickers saying, 'Less Testing, More Leaning,' and that is very true. People miss out on so much potential learning time when they have to prepare for these tests," she states.

Wienbaum plans to testify along with her father in favor of House Bill 340, a measure that would establish a three-year moratorium on standardized tests that make high-stakes decisions about students, educators and districts.

The Joint Committee on Education is hearing the testimony and Massachusetts Teachers Association President Barbara Madeloni is urging committee members to allow the measure to move forward so it gets a vote by all lawmakers.

"The people are pleading to be heard that something very wrong is happening in our schools in terms of the high-stakes testing," Madeloni stresses. "And for our legislators, it would trouble me if they can't hear that."

Max Page, Ruthie's father and a professor of architecture and history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, went to Wildwood Elementary, the same school his daughter now attends. But he says he never had to worry about taking loads of tests.

"Once a year, we took some test one day, we had no idea what it was, it wasn't high-stakes," he recalls. "It was just another way of helping teachers understand where their kids were – and guess what? I learned how to read, learned how to do math and science."

Supporters say the standardized tests keep schools and educators accountable, but Page says they are not a magic bullet and do more harm than good.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA