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Senate to Consider Companion Measure to Gibson Testing Bill

Written By Timothy Knight on 4/24/15 | 4/24/15

Washington, DC – The Senate will consider a companion to a bill authored by Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19) that would empower state and local school systems by reducing the frequency of federally-mandated assessments.

The Senate bill was introduced this week by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), a former teacher.

“Families and educators across the nation agree the federal government’s testing regime is onerous and unfair, shifting classroom focus away from teaching and learning to testing,” said Congressman Gibson. “As thousands of New York parents opt to have their children sit out of these assessments, and as the Senate prepares to vote on updating our main federal education law, I am extremely grateful to Senator Tester for taking action. Our bill in the House continues to gain bipartisan support, and I am hopeful our efforts will finally put an end to the one-size-fits-all approach to testing.”

Congressman Gibson, whose military career included several years of teaching at West Point, re-introduced the Student Testing Improvement & Accountability Act in January with Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9).

“The way to ensure good jobs and a strong economy is through an education system designed to teach students the skills they need to fill the jobs of the future,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “Teachers should focus on the content their students need to master—not simply material for an upcoming standardized test. This common-sense legislation puts the focus back on learning and ensures students are ready to step right into the jobs we’re working hard to create.”

The House legislation currently has 32 bipartisan co-sponsors representing 19 states, including New York Congressmen John Katko (NY-24), Tom Reed (NY-23), Lee Zeldin (NY-1), and Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congressman Fred Upton (MI-6), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“As a co-sponsor of the Student Testing Improvement & Accountability Act, I want to thank Senator Tester for offering a companion bill in the Senate,” said Congressman Zeldin. “This legislation will roll back federally mandated testing in our Long Island schools. I believe in higher standards, but we need to stop the over testing in our schools. Challenging our students is important, but they aren't guinea pigs. This is an important next step to shift the focus in our classrooms from testing to teaching and ensuring our children never lose their love of learning. I strongly urge Congress to pass this bill.”

The Student Testing Improvement & Accountability Act replaces current annual testing requirements for math and language arts with the exact same grade-span testing requirements in current law for science classes.

This returns federal testing requirements to the once-per-grade-span standards in place before No Child Left Behind, when math and reading assessments were conducted once in grades 3-5, once in grades 6-9, and once in grades 10-12.

The National Education Association (NEA), which represents three million educators across the country, announced its support for Congressman Gibson’s bill and the companion legislation introduced by Senator Tester this week as the Senate prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
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