Alexander raised eyebrows last fall when he indicated he might be willing to get rid of the law’s annual testing mandate. No Child Left Behind requires schools to test students in reading and math each year from third through eighth grades and once in high school. And students must be tested in science once each in elementary, middle and high school. The tests results are used to track student progress, school performance and though not required by NCLB, in some places the scores gauge the effect teachers have on students.
Testing has become a hot-button issue and a growing number of parents are encouraging their children to refuse to take tests. The “opt-out movement” has been attributed in part to growing pressure on schools associated with the Common Core standards and new tests based on those more challenging standards.
“There needs to be more local autonomy, and what needs to change is the culture of ‘the schools can’t be trusted,’ ” said Jia Lee, a special education teacher who will testify at a Senate hearing Wednesday on federal testing requirements. Last year, more than half of students at the small public school Lee teaches at in New York City opted out of their tests, she said.