Grassroots Toolkit: Time for Congressional Hearings into the misuse of standardized testing
The Network for Public Education has issued a call for congressional hearings into the overuse and misuse of tests in our schools. Our campaign is gaining steam! We need your help in getting even more traction. We are asking our friends and allies to reach out to your Senators and Representatives.
Below are two ways that you can help out. The first is a letter that you can send via mail or email to your Congressperson or Senator. The second is a guide to making an appointment with their staff. Thank you for taking the time to do one or both of these actions?
1. Write a letter to a member of Congress using the following template.
On March 2nd the Network for Public Education called for Congressional hearings about high-stakes standardized testing. As (identify yourself—a retired teacher, a parent, etc), I encourage you to accept NPE’s request to hold formal hearings. I believe that it is important to investigate the overuse and misuse of high stakes standardized testing. These tests are having a negative impact on children, public schools, and communities. Tests should be diagnostic or evaluative. Currently, high stakes tests are used to punish rather than to benefit children. These tests are not being used in an instructionally appropriate manner, and are wasting precious time and money.The Network for Public Education is calling on Congressional leaders to pursue the following eleven questions concerning testing:
- Do the tests promote skills our children and our economy need?
- What is the purpose of these tests?
- How good are the tests?
- Are tests being given to children who are too young?
- Are tests culturally biased?
- Are tests harmful to students with disabilities?
- How has the frequency and quantity of testing increased?
- Does testing harm teaching?
- How much money does it cost?
- Are there conflicts of interest in testing policies?
- Was it legal for the U.S. Department of Education to fund two testing consortia for the Common Core State Standards?
I encourage you to visit the NPE website here (http://npe.mayfirst.org/2014/03/npe-call-for-congressional-hearings-summary/), to study the questions, and to answer the call for a formal hearing.
2. Schedule a meeting with a Congress person or their staff.
Put together a group of like minded constituents (e.g. school board members, teachers, administrators, parents, students.) and contact your Representative or Senator. If you plan to make an appointment with a legislator by email, write the words “SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT in the subject line.
What do you say and do when you get there?
- Have specific talking points. Have a specific focus or goal in mind.
- Prepare stories and facts to share that show why Congressional hearings are needed.
- Bring handouts that you can leave with them.
Don’t forget to follow up by sending an email or letter. Consider writing a thank-you note to let the legislator know you appreciate their time and interest. Be sure to ask if they need any further information. Also consider writing letters and op-eds in local newspapers making the call for congressional hearings.
Your congressional delegation will be home March 17-21 for constituent work week. Now is the perfect time to get in touch and urge them to hold the hearings.
To contact your senators, go here:
For your congressional representative, go here:
The following web pages explain The Network for Public Education’s call for Congressional Hearings. Please distribute widely!