Utah educator: standardized testing likely a big issue at NEA Convention

Public school students in Utah and across the nation are stressed out and underperforming academically because they are being tested too much, according to Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh with the Utah Education Association. Photo credit: Rhode Island Department of Education.

SALT LAKE CITY – Over-testing of public school students is likely to be among the top issues at the National Education Association annual meeting and representative assembly, in session now in Denver.

Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah Education Association, said standardized testing in reading and writing, math and science is so frequent that it’s stressing students out.

“Kids are miserable,” she said. “In this last round of assessments that we had here in Utah, you had kids in tears, teachers frustrated at the lack of support for technological infrastructure to support the tests being given on computer.”

Gallagher-Fishbaugh said there seems to be frustration from educators around the nation over the increased standardized testing which has cut way down on instructional time a teacher has with students. She said it’s linked to the “No Child Left Behind” legislation passed during the George W. Bush administration, and that more than 10,000 delegates from school districts across the nation could vote on policy regarding standardized testing at the NEA national meeting.

Gallagher-Fishbaugh said there are also ongoing technical issues with Utah’s Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence, also known as the “SAGE Assessment.”

“We sent out a survey,” she said, “and I received well over 3,000 replies on that survey with horror stories about what’s happening, specifically, with the SAGE Assessment.”

A major challenge for educators in Utah and across the nation, Gallagher-Fishbaugh said, is that non-educators in the state Legislature and at the federal level often are involved in crafting education policy. She said the NEA convention could result in a mandate to lobby the federal Department of Education and lawmakers to reform standardized testing.

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