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Congress Could Reduce Testing for K-12 Students in NV, Nation

PHOTO: Public school students will likely be taking fewer standardized tests if Congress passes a bill now under consideration. Photo courtesy of New York State Education Department.
PHOTO: Public school students will likely be taking fewer standardized tests if Congress passes a bill now under consideration. Photo courtesy of New York State Education Department.
July 15, 2015

LAS VEGAS - A bill moving through Congress could dramatically reduce standardized testing for kindergarten-through-12th-grade students in Nevada and around the nation.

The Every Child Achieves Act would stop much of the testing linked to the No Child Left Behind law, said Vikki Courtney, president of the Clark County Education Association. In her view, the testing - which takes several weeks of the school year - has done more harm than good, for students and teachers.

"It takes away from instruction time because you are preparing for testing, and then you're taking the test, and you're celebrating testing, and that's not what teaching is about," she said. "Teaching is about teaching a whole child."

Proponents of the testing say it's a reliable way to see how students - and schools - are performing. But Courtney said standardized testing stresses some students to the point of quitting school, and can cause frustrated teachers to retire or leave the profession.

Courtney said grade-span testing is among the alternatives being considered to replace the current system. She said students in all grades still would be tested in major subjects, but would have more time to focus on learning and to develop critical thinking skills.

"It's less testing," she said, "and so it gives them more of an opportunity to look over several grades to see how they did cumulatively for those grades."

Courtney said 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.

More information about the Clark County Education Association is online at ccea.nv.org. A bill summary is at help.senate.gov.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV