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Congress May Reform Standardized Testing in New Mexico and Across the Nation

PHOTO: Public school students will likely be taking fewer standardized tests if Congress passes a bill now under consideration. Photo courtesy City of Beaumont, Texas.
PHOTO: Public school students will likely be taking fewer standardized tests if Congress passes a bill now under consideration. Photo courtesy City of Beaumont, Texas.
July 9, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. – A bill moving through Congress could dramatically reduce standardized testing for kindergarten-through-12th grade students in New Mexico and around the country.

Betty Patterson, president of the National Education Association of New Mexico, says the Every Child Achieves Act would stop much of the testing linked to the No Child Left Behind law.

She maintains the testing, which takes at least nine weeks of the school year in New Mexico, has done more harm than good, for students and teachers.

"I think all students and teachers are living under such a cloud of assessment, that they don't have time to be creative, to enjoy learning, to enjoy teaching anymore," she states.

Proponents of the testing say it's a reliable way to see how students and schools are performing.

But Patterson says standardized testing stresses some students to the point of quitting school, and can cause frustrated teachers to retire or leave the profession.

Patterson says so-called grade span testing is among the alternatives being considered to replace the current system.

She explains students in all grades would still be tested in major subjects, but would have more time to focus on learning and to develop critical thinking skills.

"You might have testing in third grade, in fifth grade, in eighth grade, in 11th grade for students,” she explains. “And of course, every school district will use some kind of testing for pre and post."

Patterson adds the National Education Association, which has 3 million members, is strongly supportive of the Every Child Achieves Act, although it's still a work in progress. The original bill, introduced in April, has been amended more than 40 times.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM