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Less Testing for K-12 Students in Utah?

Salt Lake City, UT  Students from kindergarten through 12th grade in Utah and across the country, are likely to be taking far fewer tests if Congress passes a bill under consideration. Comments from Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh (fish-BAH), president, Utah Education Association. Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Salt Lake City, UT Students from kindergarten through 12th grade in Utah and across the country, are likely to be taking far fewer tests if Congress passes a bill under consideration. Comments from Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh (fish-BAH), president, Utah Education Association. Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
July 15, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY - A bill moving through Congress could dramatically reduce standardized testing for kindergarten-through-12th-grade students in Utah and around the nation.

The Every Child Achieves Act would stop much of the testing linked to the No Child Left Behind law, said Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah 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.

"They've taken those assessments and they've used them in a perverse manner, to not only grade teachers but also to grade schools, and communities," she said. "And the focus has become hyper-focused on tests, as opposed to educating the whole child, so absolutely it's problematic."

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

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

"It keeps a measure. It keeps assessments on the forefront," she said. "It give teachers more time - one-on-one time - with students - especially those kids who are in need of extra help."

Gallgher-Fishbaugh 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 Utah Education Association is online at myuea.org. A bill summary is at help.senate.gov.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT