House education panel head endorses annual student testing

AP News
Posted: Jan 22, 2015 3:23 PM
House education panel head endorses annual student testing

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee on Thursday endorsed continuing the federally required annual testing of students under the No Child Left Behind education law.

With Congress trying to update the President George W. Bush-era law, debate has centered on the requirement that states test students in reading and math in grades three to eight and again in high school.

Some educators and parents say that has created a high-stakes testing environment, and that states and districts should determine testing policy.

The House committee chairman, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said he believes the annual results help parents and policymakers know where students stand.

"I just think it's important that we keep enough meaningful data that we can make sure that we're not leaving kids, segments, behind," he said at the American Enterprise Institute.

Kline said he expects that the House late next month will debate a bill similar to one that passed in 2013. That measure, which he sponsored, would have kept the testing mandate but limited Washington's role in deciding which schools are failing and how to fix them.

The legislation had no Democratic support and led to a veto threat from President Barack Obama.

The Obama administration and many congressional Democrats, as well as civil rights groups, have advocated for a strong federal role to ensure that states and districts are helping historically underserved kids.

Kline said the test results provide a "report card."

"You need some information. You need a report card, but you don't need the federal government deciding what you need to do to fix your school," Kline said.

On Wednesday, Reps. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said they were reintroducing a bill that would replace the annual mandate with a requirement for testing just once each in elementary, middle and high school.

On the Senate side, Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has said he's open to discussion over whether the testing mandate should remain. He has said he wants to get a bill to the Senate floor in late February.


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