Mike Rounds doesn’t listen to me, but maybe Kristi Noem does. South Dakota’s lone Representative backs the provision in the pending revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that would allow parents to pull their kids from standardized tests:
U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., voted for the House bill, including the opt-out provision.
“The existing federal education law unnecessarily pressures parents into conforming with one-size-fits-all testing mandates, punishing school districts if parents choose differently for their child,” Noem said in an email [Patrick Anderson, “Bill Would Let Students Skip Mandatory Testing,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.08.02].
Good call, Rep. Noem! Standardized tests are an unnecessary and unhelpful bureaucratic intrusion on teachers’ efforts to teach and evaluate our kids. The House version of the education bill also allows states to leave student growth on standardized tests out of their accountability models.
Interestingly, Laura Moser of Slate says the information we got get from standardized tests about school performance is one of the few things No Child Left Behind did right:
Put aside the very real questions of whether teaching to the test undermines the quality of education and whether it’s unfair to evaluate teachers based on extremely flawed tests (yes and yes). The most positive outcome of the testing regimen No Child Left Behind imposed is that we now know quite a bit about the students in our public school system and about which groups need the most help. The right to cherry-pick the kids who should and should not take those tests, as would inevitably happen, would reverse that progress, which is why the White House issued a veto threat if one of these amendments made it into the final bill [Laura Moser, “No Child Left Behind Gave Us One Indisputably Good Thing—and Congress Just Tried to Gut It,” Slate, 2015.07.15].
Alas, the House version Rep. Noem is backing drew stiff Democratic opposition and passed on a narrow party-line vote while the Senate version enjoyed strong bipartisan support, in large part because of “Title I portability,” a provision that would have federal assistance follow students who choose to enroll in different public schools. Democrats and the President oppose Title I portability because it would tend to drain money from struggling schools that need the money most and “spread Title I funds thinly across the wealthiest districts, doing less good.” Title I portability may dominate the conference committee discussions; the testing opt-out provision may get lost in that dust-up.