Vermont Board of Education opposes standardized testing


MONTPELIER -- The Vermont State Board of Education is taking a stance against the testing policies of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, weeks after the state's education secretary sent a letter to parents saying the "broken NCLB policy" has identified nearly every school in Vermont as low performing.

The board is calling on Congress to rethink the testing policies. The board's statement was approved at a recent meeting after several months of study and discussion, member William Mathis said.

"The motivating force behind the statement is that there is too much testing," Mathis said. "Teachers are complaining about it. Parents are complaining about it. We're just running from one test to the next. It's tedious, and it's not the best use of taxpayers' money."

The federal statute requires standardized testing of students in grades three through eight and in high school. The No Child Left Behind Act, enacted in 2001, calls for gradual improvement every year with every student in a school to be considered proficient by 2014. If a single student does not meet the mark, the entire school is considered low performing.

Vermont has been using the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, and will soon change to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC.

"The NECAP, and soon, the SBAC, can tell us something about how students are doing in a limited set of narrowly defined subjects overall, as measured in a given time," the statement said.

But the tests don't measure the education quality standards adopted by the State Board of Education. Those standards call for student proficiency in a range of subject matter broader than the reading, math and science measured by standardized tests. They also call for proficiency in "global citizenship, physical and health education and wellness, artistic expression and transferable 21st century skills."

The board also opposes using the tests to evaluate teachers, principals and schools.

"Although the federal government is encouraging states to use scores for teacher, principal and school evaluations, this policy direction is not appropriate," the statement reads.


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