Dr. Cardona, Please Cancel the Tests

NPE logo for main page

Dear Dr. Cardona:

On December 14, 2019, President Joe Biden participated in the 2020 Public Education Forum held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Early childhood expert, Dr. Denisha Jones, explained the damage done by standardized testing and then asked, “If you are elected President, will you commit to the ending of standardized testing in public schools?”

Joe Biden’s response was immediate, direct, and clear. “Yes.” He continued, passionately declaring that “teaching to a test underestimates and discounts the things that are most important for students to know.” As you listen to his full remarks regarding why he is opposed to standardized testing, you will hear the authentic response of someone who is not only married to a teacher but who, growing up with a disability, may have felt the brunt of standardized testing himself.

We, the undersigned understand that the pandemic has inflicted enormous social, emotional, physical, and academic harm on America’s children. We also know that the consequences of the pandemic have not fallen equally on some children’s shoulders. Those who were disadvantaged prior to Covid-19 are bearing a disproportionate weight from experiencing more loss, more hunger, and more stress than their more affluent peers.

It does not take a standardized assessment to know that for millions of America’s children, the burden of learning remotely, either full- or part-time, expands academic learning gaps between haves and have nots. Whenever children are able to return fully to their classrooms, every instructional moment should be dedicated to teaching, not to teasing out test score gaps that we already know exist. If the tests are given this spring, the scores will not be released until the fall of 2021 when students have different teachers and may even be enrolled in a different school. Scores will have little to no diagnostic value when they finally arrive. Simply put, a test is a measure, not a remedy.

To believe that it is impossible for teachers to identify and address learning gaps without a standardized test is to have a breathtaking lack of faith in our nation’s teachers. The President made it clear in his remarks that he believes in the ability of teachers to identify what students do and do not know; we hope that you do, too.

Like the President, some of us who sign this letter reject the need for the standardized testing regimes that exploded over the past quarter-century. Others conclude that such testing has a limited role. However, we all maintain that at this moment in time, it is in the best interest of children that the U.S. Department of Education lift the mandate for annual testing this spring.

We hope that you agree with the sentiments of President Biden and with us, and upon your confirmation immediately cancel the 2021 testing mandate.

Co-signers to Our Letter

  • The Network for Public Education
  • The Schott Foundation for Public Education
  • The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
  • National Center for Fair & Open Testing, Inc. (FairTest)
  • In the Public Interest
  • The National Superintendents Roundtable
  • Journey for Justice Alliance
  • Defending the Early Years
  • Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools
  • Arizona Educators United
  • BASD (Bethlehem Area School District) Proud Parents
  • Badass Teachers Association (BATs)
  • Bay Area Collective Keeping Privatizers Away from Community Schools BACKPACS
  • Broward BATs
  • California Educators United
  • Children Are More Than Test Scores
  • Citizens for Public Schools
  • Class Size Matters
  • Coalition for Equity
  • Community Alliance for Public Education- CAPE
  • Connecticut Public School Advocates
  • Educators for Democratic Schools
  • Florida BATs
  • Florida Council of Churches
  • Fund Education NOW Florida
  • Illinois Families for Public Schools
  • Indiana Coalition for Public Education
  • Indiana Coalition for Public Education–Monroe County
  • Iowans for Public Education
  • It Takes a Village
  • It Takes a Village to Tackle HB70
  • Long Island Opt Out
  • MI CORE (Michigan Caucus of Rank and File Educators)
  • MI Ed Justice
  • Miami-Dade County Public School Parents (MDCPS Parents)
  • Michigan Collective for Equity in Education
  • National Educators United
  • New Haven Public School Advocates
  • New Rochelle FUSE (Federation United School Employees)
  • New York State Allies for Public Education
  • Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education
  • Northwest Indiana Coalition for Public Education
  • Northwest Ohio Friends of Public Education
  • Ohio BATs
  • Opt Out Georgia
  • Oregon BATs
  • Oregon Save Our Schools
  • Parent Coalition for Student Privacy
  • Parents for Public Schools – National
  • Parents for Public Schools Greenwood and LeFlore County
  • Pastors for Florida Children
  • Pastors for North Carolina Children
  • Pastors for Oklahoma Children
  • Pastors for Tennessee Children
  • Pastors for Texas Children
  • Paterson Education Fund
  • Public Education Matters Georgia
  • Public Education Partners 
  • Public Schools First NC
  • Raise Your Hand Illinois
  • Rethinking Schools
  • Rochester Coalition for Public Education
  • Save Michigan’s Public Schools
  • Save Our Schools New Jersey
  • Save Our Schools North Carolina
  • School and Communities United Milwaukee
  • Step Up Louisiana
  • Support Our Students Alabama
  • Tennessee BATs
  • The New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools
  • The Public Science Project at the CUNY Graduate Center
  • United for Florida Children
  • Washington Township Parent Council Network of Indianapolis
  • Wear Red for Ed
  • Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club
  • When Public Schools Reopen
  • Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools