- An anticipated Republican-sponsored bill re-authorizing No Child Left Behind is expected to introduce major changes, such as the elimination of the mandatory annual standardized tests for third-through-eighth-graders — a fixture of the original 2001 bill.
- The elimination of annual standardized tests would conflict directly with the rollout of the Common Core, which has been adopted by numerous states and includes yearly "accountability tests."
- Those against annual standardized tests believe they have created unnecessary pressures in schools and have skewed focus toward teaching to the test. Those who want to continue them, including civil rights groups, believe they are important to ensure no minority student slips through the cracks.
In anticipation of the bill, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is expected to give a major speech Monday that addresses the future of NCLB. If Congess does pass legislation that eliminates annual testing, it will definitely undermine President Barack Obama's efforts with Common Core.
Testing has become increasingly contentious in America. From a teacher and administrator point of view, the Common Core rollout and its anticipated drops in test scores have created new anxieties from teachers, who in some states are required to have their evaluations tied to student scores. Parents, meanwhile, have taken issue with the anxiety and stress that comes with testing, as well as the issues with teaching to the test.
Daniel Koretz, a testing expert at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, has analyzed various teacher reactions to testing. He argues that they can range from positive, where teachers are trying harder, to negative, where they are teaching to the test — or, in a worst-case scenario, cheating.
It's not necessarily the tests that are bad so much as the consequences that are tied to them. Tests are meant to be diagnostic, but over time, they have become the final destination.