AFT Resolution

END MISUSE OF TESTING AND SUPPORT TEACHER AND PARENT RIGHTS

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers recognizes that student testing when not misused can be a useful tool that informs teaching; and

WHEREAS, the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives, not solely prepare that populace for college and career; and

WHEREAS, instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students; and

WHEREAS, the AFT recognizes that public reporting of disaggregated data is necessary to ensure no students are left hidden in the shadows; and

WHEREAS, parents, teachers and communities have seen high-stakes, low-quality tests unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities and English language learners as failing; and

WHEREAS, the practice of using standardized test scores as a basis for refusing to fund schools or to erroneously label schools has harmed students, schools and communities; and

WHEREAS, the federal government can no longer mandate the use of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations because this practice has been repeatedly and resoundingly rejected by researchers and experts, yet they continue to be used in some states for these purposes; and

WHEREAS, the Every Student Succeeds Act provides an opportunity—but no requirement—for states and districts to end misuse of tests; and

WHEREAS, it is clear that some states will forgo the opportunity to change and innovate, choosing instead the status quo—refusing to reconsider the misuse of standardized tests and continuing an overreliance on high-stakes tests to measure student learning and teacher performance, without true transparency, feedback or accountability that promotes student success and achievement:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers calls on—and will fight for—states and districts to use the opportunity afforded by ESSA to rethink their testing policies and overhaul their accountability systems so that both align to what helps improve teaching and learning for all students; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will advocate for an engaged and socially relevant curriculum that is student-based and supported by research; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue to oppose high stakes being attached to standardized tests; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports the right of parents and teachers to question the educational value of high stakes tests and the consequences for their children, especially when they see inconsistent testing policies that are not designed in their children’s best interest; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports the right of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests and students to be allowed to refuse standardized tests without penalty for the student or the school, and the right of teachers to explain these rights to parents, also without fear of penalty.

(2017)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.