You can watch the conference committee in action yesterday and today. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) looks to be headed for passage. The bill is now called: S. 1177 Every Child Achieves Act. Basically, the bill will strip the punitive aspects of Race to the Top such as teacher evaluations based on test scores and take overs of struggling schools. Annual testing, however, remains.
While Common Core may not be mandated, most states already have developed tests to measure the standards or are using the two national tests.
The brief discussion of testing acknowledged concern about over the impact of testing and will encourage states to enact limits. The committee members, however, stated that federal testing requirements were not the problem. The problem was the use of test scores for accountability. The authority for how test scores will be used is returned to the states. This does not mean that currently mandated accountability systems for grading teachers, schools, and districts are gone. They just are not federally mandated.
Remember that the Florida legislature stated that its tests were not the problem, the problem was over testing in the districts. Districts state that the amount of testing is due to the requirements to use scores for teacher evaluations. Florida’s 2016 legislative session could be interesting. Annual testing will not disappear. How scores are used could change.
I watched today. Some amendments were approved by both the House and Senate committee members that are of particular interest were approved:
Rep. Thompson: Study Title I funding formulas
Sen. Enzi: Study early childhood program overlap
Rep. Bonamici: Include arts and interdisciplinary course content in Title IV STEM programs
Sen. Bennett: Place caps on the amount of testing time required
There were a few other amendments related to teacher training for the appropriate use of student data and extending dual enrollment for ELL students.