Rep. Israel bill seeks to limit standardized tests

Anthony Oreilly

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, flanked by 13 Long Island school superintendents, said Monday he would introduce legislation that would cut the number of standardized tests which public school students are required to take in half, saying that the tests were a burden on students and teachers.

“We’re overtesting our students and stifling their creativity,” Israel said on the front steps of Great Neck South Middle School. “They need the classroom time to learn knowledge, not just how to take a test. That’s why I worked with many Long Island superintendents to draft legislation that would allow states to choose an alternative testing schedule for students.”

Israel said he would introduce the Tackling Excessive Standardized Testing Act to the U.S. Department of Education later this week, which proposes that students in grades 3 to 8 take English standardized tests in grades 3, 5 and 7 and take math standardized tests in grades 4, 6 and 8.

Israel called the current standardized testing system, which requires students from grades 3 to 8 to take an English and math test every year, an “intolerable regiment of testing.”

“We are robbing [students] of their creativity,” he said. “All in the name of standardized testing.” 

The bill, Israel said, would also allow for school districts whose standardizes test scores fall in the top 15 percent in their state to test students in English in grades 3 and 7 and in Math in grades 4 and 8. 

The bill would require the U.S. Department of Education to make recommendations on how to improve school districts that perform poorly on standardized testing. 

The bill would also allow students with “limited English proficiency” to take the English standardized test in their own language for the first three years of entering a school district. The bill would also not hold schools accountable for test scores of students with “limited English proficiency” for one year after the student enters the district.  

Israel said he came up with the idea to create the proposed legislation after meeting with Long Island school superintendents in January, who told the congressman that they wanted to address the number of standardized tests students were required to take. 

Great Neck Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan said the bill would allow “teachers to teach and our students to learn.” 

“Congressman Israel has taken a stand on this issue that will address the over testing of students across the United States,” Dolan said. “I thank the congressman for his actions.” 

Commack Superintendent of Schools Donald James said he thanked Israel for “identifying this issue and acting upon it by way of this proposed legislation.” 

Dolan and James were joined by school superintendents from the Manhasset, Mineola, Port Washington, Roslyn, Half Hollow Hills, Oyster Bay, Westbury,Huntington, Glen Cove, Happauge and Hicksville school districts.

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Anthony Oreilly

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