Monday, February 09, 2015

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Street sign
Dear Save Our Schools Supporter,
Congress is about to act on the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as NCLB). We, along with the help of our colleagues at Fair Test and many other supporters of public education, have prepared a letter for you to send. The letter can be downloaded at SOS Letter to Congress. The text of the letter is below. Your voice will make a difference!    
The House and Senate education committees plan to re-write the ESEA Act in February. The time is now to let your Senators and Congressperson  know that you are opposed to high-stakes testing used to punish schools and teachers.    
As members of Save Our Schools we ask our representatives to roll back federally-required, high-stakes standardized testing to give students more time to learn and teachers more time to teach.  
Once you have downloaded the letter click on this link to retrieve the email addresses of your Senators and Congressperson. We encourage you to send the letter along with personal stories about the adverse effects the deluge of testing is having on you, your family, your students, and your school.      
Dear [Sen/Rep],
As you consider the next reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), I ask you as a member of Save Our Schools to roll back federally-required, high-stakes standardized testing to give students more time to learn and to give teachers more time to teach--especially so they may work closely with those students who are most in need. Furthermore, we strongly advocate an end to the use of test scores to punish and/or close schools or to evaluate teachers.
Before No Child Left Behind (NCLB), federal law required students to be tested just once in reading and math during each of three grade spans corresponding to elementary, middle, and high school (3-5, 6-9, and 10-12). We should return to that sensible approach while including science and continuing to disaggregate data for student subgroups to allow for the federal government and states to monitor progress.
NCLB brought an avalanche of testing as schools, fearing sanctions, narrowed curriculum and turned many classrooms into little more than test-prep factories. The problem is most acute in schools serving the students that ESEA was designed to help. The results have been weak. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the rate of improvement in both reading and math has been slower under NCLB than under the previous version of ESEA.
Locally-driven assessments are a better way to inform instruction and improve teaching and learning than are federally mandated tests. Congress should allow states, districts, and schools to use federal funds to develop alternatives to standardized tests, such as portfolio-based reviews, interviews, student reflective journals,  and teacher created formative assessments. States must augment test scores with meaningful data on other important indicators of school quality and student learning. 
Parents, students, teachers and community leaders are demanding an end to the misuse and overuse of testing. Surveys show the public now knows that increased testing has hurt or made no difference in improving schools.
I urge you to support a return to sanity and grade-span testing. Please inform the leadership of the education committees.
Thank you for your attention to these critical issues regarding our children's civil and human rights.
Save Our Schools is a non-profit public education advocacy organization that supports Equitable funding, Teacher, family, and community leadership in forming public education policies, Curriculum responsive to and inclusive of local school communities, Professional, qualified, and committed teachers in all public schools, and an End to all high stakes testing and standardized test-based teacher evaluations. 

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Save Our Schools
is dedicated to public education as the cornerstone of a democratic society. We are committed to education policy and actions that allow students, teachers, families, and communities to work together to meet the needs of all children.  

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