American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued this message of support to Seattle’s Garfield High School teachers standing up against the use of high-stakes testing.
Dear Garfield High School Teachers:
Thank you. Thank you for taking a courageous stand against the fixation on high-stakes testing and its harmful impact on our ability to give our students the high-quality public education they deserve.
Your actions have propelled the national conversation on the impact of high-stakes testing. Every educator understands that appropriate assessments are an integral part of a high-quality education system. But an accountability system obsessed with measuring, which punishes teachers and schools, comes at a huge cost to children. This fixation on testing has narrowed our curriculums and deprived our students of art, music, gym and other subjects that enrich their minds and make learning fun. Teachers have been forced to spend too much time on test preparation and data collection, at the expense of more engaging instruction. Ironically, this fixation on high-stakes testing actually does the opposite of what its proponents tell us it will do.
Learning is more than a test score, and teaching and learning—not testing—should drive classroom instruction. We need to be focused on growing and nurturing the minds of our students—to ensure that they can think creatively and analytically. It’s no longer enough to teach kids to memorize a bunch of numbers and terms; they must think critically and be able to absorb and interpret knowledge. We must ensure that our children are able to not only dream their dreams but also achieve them. At the same time, we must prepare students for civic engagement and to value that we all have a collective responsibility to one another.
The AFT and tens of thousands of educators, parents and students stand with you in this effort. The AFT passed a resolution at our national convention last summer focused on rebalancing our national education priorities and ensuring that teaching and learning drive our education policies. And we are focused on uniting communities across the country around this issue.
Thank you for leading this conversation.
- Download the letter here (PDF)