Press Release

AFT’s Weingarten on Education Secretary Duncan’s Testing Announcement

For Release: 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Kate Childs Graham
202/393-6354; cell 202/615-2424

WASHINGTON— Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Education Secretary Arne Duncan's testing announcement today.

"This administration—acting through the Department of Education—has sadly made an overreliance on testing the centerpiece of its education policy. The department spawned this testing fixation—through both Race to the Top and the NCLB waivers—when it said that standardized student testing must be a 'significant' piece of teacher evaluation and accountability systems. As a result, the administration's policies throughout the country—whether states have adopted the Common Core or not—have reduced kids to a test score. And that's been painfully obvious in my visits to schools nationwide; I've heard from parents who are frustrated, teachers who are discouraged and students who are petrified as a result of this testing. Thankfully, the Department of Education has finally heard this as well. I'm glad he did a paean to teachers. They never get enough respect and acknowledgement for the Herculean efforts they have made in the last few years. The department's admission today that testing has gone too far is a good step, if there is a real course-correction that is linked to concrete action and not just words.

"And that concrete action can start today with a stroke of a pen through the waiver process. We shouldn't be testing every child, every year. We need assessments that meaningfully measure student learning. We need to invest the time and resources wasted on excessive and unhelpful testing back into art and music and other enriching curriculum. And we need a new accountability system that moves from a test-and-punish model to a support-and-improve model. The overtesting this administration has too often championed has sapped our students and our classrooms of the joy of learning. We need to restore that joy now."

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.