Obama Reverses Course On Standardized Tests

President Obama, in his Facebook video discussing standardized tests [Facebook screengrab]

President Obama, in his Facebook video discussing standardized tests [Facebook screengrab]

In a surprising announcement Saturday, President Barack Obamasharply shifted his administration’s position on standardizedtests, saying testing has gone too far and needs to be rolled back.Not only that, but the Obama administration admittedit deserved much of the blame for excessive testing.

The announcement came via a video Obama released on Facebook Saturday, where heproposes a series of policy changes to make testing less prominentin schools.

Currently, the federal No Child Left Behind law requires statesto test children once annually in math and reading from grades 3-8,as well as once in high school. They also need to be tested atleast three times in science. In addition to these federalrequirements, states have enacted dozens of their own tests tomeasure achievement in additional grades or to cover subjects suchas social studies. The Obama administration says itstill supports annual testing, but it believes other forms oftesting are overkill and should be rolled back.

“Learning is about so much more than just filling in theright bubble,” Obama said in the video. “So we’regoing to work with states, school districts, teachers, and parentsto make sure that we’re not obsessing abouttesting.”

In his video, Obama proposed that schools cap theirassessments so that no more than 2 percent of school time each yearis spent taking tests (in a typical 180-day school year, this wouldamount to about three and a half days of testing). He alsosuggested that Congress could work to “reduceover-testing” as it labors to possibly update No Child LeftBehind later this year.

Obama and outgoing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan plan tomeet with teaching professionals Monday in order to outline theirnew plan for cutting down on tests.

Duncan released a statement of his own acknowledging that hisdepartment had done its part in driving testing mania.

“It’s important that we’re allhonest with ourselves,” Duncan said, according to The NewYork Times. “At the federal, state and locallevel, we have all supported policies that have contributed to theproblem in implementation. We can and will work with states,districts and educators to help solve it.”

Obama’s concession is a win for left-leaning teachersunions, which have fiercely fought the administration on the issueof testing.

“Today it’s clear: Parents, students and educators,your voice matters and you were heard,” said the American Federation of Teachers, thecountry’s second-largest teachers union, in a statement.

The president’s new course of action coincides with a newstudy released by the Council for Great City Schools which findsthat the typical 8th-grader spends about 2.3 percent of their time takingtests, and that children take about 112 total standardized tests bythe time they graduate.

The recent shift to new standardized tests aligned with CommonCore has fueled a significant backlash against tests across thecountry. In New York, more than 20 percent of children were pulledout of tests by their parents, many of whom were egged on by thestate’s teachers unions. (RELATED: One In Five NY Students Skipped CommonCore Tests)

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