Keep speaking out about testing

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Keep speaking out about testing

Voice: May 2017

Standards aligned curriculum. Standards aligned standardized tests. PSSAs. Keystones. Pre-assessments. Test prep.

With so much testing and test prep in your schools, it must feel like there is no room for flexibility to reach all of your students. It can feel like your creativity as an educator is stifled.

At the Student PSEA conference, I had the opportunity to hear two of your colleagues, A.J. Juliani and Anthony Gabriele, share stories about how they have taken back their classrooms through innovative practice and supportive school leaders. It was an uplifting presentation that gave our student members (and me) hope for a better means of educating our students.

The energy for such innovations is developing in members and parents alike. We have heard from many of you who are frustrated with the intensified focus on federally mandated standardized testing, and, today, PSEA is providing you with a way to voice those concerns directly to policymakers in Harrisburg.

Last month, PSEA joined with legislators at a state Capitol press conference to introduce a five-bill package that reimagines standardized testing in your classrooms. Annual testing may still be a requirement under ESSA, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find other ways to rid our schools of the stress and focus associated with these tests.

These bills would provide flexibility to school boards and parents with regard to graduation requirements and mandatory test taking. They would alter the PSSA administration timeline so the tests and results can be better used to inform instruction and curriculum, use tests for government accountability measures only, and make use of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement a local school district decision and not a state mandate.

You can read more about the details in this edition of Voice or at, where you can also find links to advocate for these bills.

What these bills propose is connected to a PSEA policy paper we issued in March, titled “A Balanced and Research-Based Approach to Standardized Testing.”

We’re very grateful that these legislators, Republicans and Democrats, have stepped up and joined us in our mission to change the culture of federally mandated standardized testing in Pennsylvania. They are listening to you, respecting your professional expertise, and acting to take the recommendations you’ve proposed and make them into policy.

Introducing these bills is a first step, and it will take time and attention to get these bills to the governor’s desk. But this is a priority for your Association, because your Association knows that it is a priority for you.

So, keep asking those questions. Keep speaking out about testing. And keep lending your professional expertise to these conversations. 

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