WASHINGTON—Statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on today’s National Assessment of Educational Progress results:
“Of course we are disappointed with the NAEP scores, but they should give pause to anyone who still wishes to double down on austerity and make competition, scapegoating teachers, closing rather than fixing schools, fear, and testing and sanctioning the dominant education strategies.
“Sixty years ago, our nation made a commitment in Brown v. Board of Education to school integration, and 50 years ago we committed to federal funding of schools that served underprivileged students. In the years that followed, we saw increased social mobility, increased educational opportunity and, yes, a rise in NAEP scores. But in the past decade, this progress has slowed to a halt. High-stakes testing has eclipsed all else, and the recession caused both a spike in child poverty and a run on austerity. While disaggregated data is important, the big promises made when Congress passed No Child Left Behind and when this administration introduced Race to the Top have gone unfulfilled. Our kids have lost the joy of learning and teachers have lost the latitude to be creative as the focus has simply become test scores and their consequences.
“Not only is there plenty of anecdotal evidence that our kids have suffered, these latest NAEP scores again show that the strategy of testing and sanctioning, coupled with austerity, does not work.
“With President Obama’s acknowledgement that testing has gotten out of control, and the work being done on Capitol Hill to fix NCLB, we have a big opening for a reset on education policy. It’s time to focus on the whole child. It’s time to focus on supporting improvement. We need to foster collaborative, safe and welcoming environments; recruit, support and retain great teachers and let them teach; include parents in decision making and engage children with a rich curriculum that includes art, music, physical education and project-based instruction; and provide wraparound emotional, social and health services. The bright spots in the data reflect these strategies. This is the way we can reclaim the promise of public education.”