Curious about just how much testing is going on in schools, and frustrated with the anecdotal reports and hyperbolic accounts?
So was the Senate HELP Commmittee, way back in 2011-2012.
That's right. There was language in the bipartisan Harkin ESEA bill calling for the creation of a national commission that would have, among other things, been charged with "determining the frequency, length, and scheduling of such tests and assessments, and measuring, in hours and days, the student and teacher time spent on testing."
The Senate language was proposed by Senators Alexander and Bennet.
Indeed, Bennet introduced standalone legislation last year. Colorado has been working on auditing and coordinating tests for several years, according to this 2011 Durango Herald opinion piece. Alexander is listed as a co-sponsor.
Since then, the noise surrounding test proliferation and/or test uses has risen exponentially -- warranted or not, we don't really know. Chicago and DC have already initiated testing audit/streamlining procedures.
The TeachPlus report that came out the other day indicated that there were large variations around the country, and that official and classroom views of the testing burden are very different. However, the report was limited to a small set of districts. [See here for some updated information on why its Chicago numbers were initially wrong.]
I proposed something along the same lines in my latest Scholastic Administrator column: "Secretary Duncan has at least one thing he could do with his remaining time in office that could be both effective at preserving his initiatives and popular with educators and parents. He could begin to address concerns over test proliferation... Serving as a watchdog against overtesting, he would also effectively be protecting the Common Core assessments during a very vulnerable time."
Hardcore testing opponents would not be appeased, of course -- look no further than the reactions to the New York State attempts to compromise on Common Core implementation for evidence of that. But, depending on the results such an audit provided, everyone else might be reassured and glad to know how different states and districts compare.
No word back yet about whether the USDE had taken a position on the language or not -- or what they think of the idea now.