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Rep. Bonamici Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Student Assessments

December 8, 2014
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-06) introduced the “Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely” (SMART) Act today to address the proliferation of unnecessary tests in our nation’s classrooms. 

“We don’t need more tests, we need better tests,” Congresswoman Bonamici said. “The SMART Act will help states and school districts align high-quality assessments and eliminate assessments that are unreliable or redundant. Assessments should provide useful information that informs instruction and promotes student achievement, but current testing regimens often don’t meet this standard. Excessive and redundant testing has become a distraction that reduces both instructional time and creative educational opportunities in our classrooms. The SMART Act will provide federal backing to states and school districts to design assessment systems that help educators teach and students learn.”

The SMART Act includes a grant for states to audit their assessments and eliminate poor-quality or redundant tests. The Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools have recently committed to this effort, and the SMART Act will provide much-needed federal support.

The bill also requires states and local education agencies to outline plans to improve the use of assessment data. These plans might include more time for educators to design instruction based on test results and steps to speed the delivery of test data to students and families.

“We were pleased to work with Rep. Bonamici on this legislation. It is absolutely critical that students have time to learn and teachers have time to teach. Our students deserve schools that provide one on one attention in an environment that inspires their natural curiosity and desire to learn,” National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said. “We look forward to working with Rep. Bonamici to change federal policies that overemphasize one size fits all standardized testing at the expense of teaching and learning.”

“This year I’ve visited every school district I represent, and many education professionals and students confirmed that excessive testing has created a stressful environment in our classrooms and does not lead to better educational outcomes. Of course reliable assessments aligned to high standards are important tools that help educators and families monitor students’ progress, but not if teachers don’t have time to use the results or if the assessments are poorly aligned to what students are studying. Streamlining and refining assessment systems will refocus our educational goals on student learning rather than test-taking,” Congresswoman Bonamici said. “The SMART Act gives states and school districts the tools to ensure that the assessment systems are focused on improving learning. I look forward to continued bipartisan discussions with my colleagues to improve education for all our students.”

SUPPORTERS: National Education Association, the Education Trust, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR), Center for American Progress, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Council of La Raza, Democrats for Education Reform, National Parent Teacher Association

Watch Congresswoman Bonamici’s remarks here:

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