From Congress to statehouses to local campuses, it is not uncommon to hear a rallying cry against too much testing. In fact, the issue of annual, independent testing is becoming an important issue this year as policymakers continue to debate the federal role in education.
The Bush Institute offers this “Every Student Matters” document as a way to explain why policymakers of all stripes should retain yearly, objective exams. As this piece says, annual assessment data is critical to inform parents, teachers, and the public about how all students are performing.
Every Student Matters
The success of every student reading and doing math on grade level is vital to the future success of our nation. Annual assessment data is critical to inform parents, teachers, and the public about how students perform.
Therefore, we support retaining annual, statewide, comparable student assessments in reading and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school. These critically important accountability tools provide necessary transparency and objective information for parents and policymakers.
The transparency that resulted from annual assessments with data broken down by categories such as race, income, and gender resulted in unprecedented gains in student achievement, especially for poor and minority students, on the Nation’s Report Card.
Parents, Educators, and the Public Need Clear Information: We believe parents need annual, objective information to make decisions and choices about education for their children. Clear and reliable data from annual, comparable statewide tests tells parents whether their children are meeting state standards. If annual achievement data is not available, a parent will not have a way to compare how their child is performing each year compared to other children in the state. Parents also need better information on the different types of testing, who requires the tests, and the purpose of the tests. In addition to the once-a-year tests in reading and math that federal law requires, states and districts have too often added burdensome benchmark tests that fuel the call for reductions in testing. Parents deserve to know the facts about these frequent benchmark tests that are not required by federal law.
Annual Testing Provides Objective Information on Student Progress: We believe in knowing how every student is doing in every grade, whether low or high income, behind or advanced, students with disabilities, English language learners, white, African-American, Hispanic students or any other minority. Annual, disaggregated information helps to spotlight and close the persistent achievement gap. Prior to the requirement for annual assessments that was instituted in 2002, few states had annual assessments in place. We must care enough about our students to find out how they are doing and confront the issues that performance data reveals.
Annual, Statewide Assessments Allow Comparability: A valid, reliable, and independent state test allows taxpayers, parents and educators to make comparisons of student performance between schools and districts. Without annual assessments, it is not possible to effectively measure student growth from year to year or ensure robust choice and charter programs that allow parents to know how schools are doing every year.
Responsible Taxpayer Policy: We believe in accountability for results for taxpayer dollars. The federal government’s role should be discrete and judicious, allowing state and local policymakers to make day to day classroom decisions about the education students are receiving. However, in exchange for the nearly $15 billion in federal education funding that states and districts receive (and the over $1.3 billion that Texas alone receives) to improve education for poor and minority students, it is right and reasonable to expect states to test annually in order to know how every school and every student is performing every year.
GEORGE W. BUSH PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
As the 13th presidential library, the Bush Library and Museum promotes an understanding of the American presidency, examines the specific time in history during which President Bush served, and provides access to official records and artifacts from the Bush Administration.
SHAPING THE FUTURE
THE GEORGE W. BUSH INSTITUTE
The Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization that cultivates leaders, fosters policies to solve today’s most pressing challenges, and takes action to save and change lives. Our work is inspired by the principles that guide President and Mrs. Bush in public life.Full Bio
Accountability Matters for All Students
Accountability doesn’t just matter for low-performing students and schools. It matters to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed.
The Catalyst: Growing the Middle Class with Skills
We hear plenty these days about factory jobs being lost, but what about equipping workers for jobs that require such modern skills as using a computer on the plant floor? The New York Times and the Hechinger Report each recently ran stories on this challenge. The Times noted that "Yet rarely discussed in the political debate over lost jobs are the academic skills needed for today's factory-floor positions, and the pathways through education that lead to them." Perhaps, but the pages of The Catalyst: A Journal of Ideas from the Bush Institute are filled with proposals for gaining those skills. Anne Humphrey, director of the Bush Institute's Education Reform Initiative, explains in her Catalyst essay that high schools need to think of graduation as the starting line for students, not the finish line. For one thing, high school graduation may not translate into mastery of key subjects. Here’s how Humphrey puts it: What is a diploma worth if so many students
State of Our Cities: Hispanic reading scores show some progress but not enough for success beyond high school
The progress of Hispanic students is really crucial for the progress of big states like Texas and California but also for a growing number of states. Their mastery of key subjects like math and reading will determine not only their own economic mobility but also the economic vitality and future leadership of cities like Dallas.
In Case You Missed It: Bush Institute's Education Reform Director on the State of Dallas Education
This week, the Bush Center hosted “Educated City,” an Engage program that partnered with the Dallas Festival of Ideas to explore the future of education in Dallas. The program included conversations with Mayor Mike Rawlings along with other community and school leaders and parents. The Bush Institute’s Education Reform Director, Anne Wicks Humphrey, kicked off the evening with a fascinating presentation on the current state of education in the city. She highlighted how the Bush Institute's State of Our Cities tool can be used to compare Dallas to cities around the nation, as well as countries around the world, to better understand where local students are excelling and where challenges exist. You can watch her remarks as well as the rest of the program below. And check out data on more than 100 cities around the country using State of Our Cities at bushcenter.org/StateofOurCities.