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Taking a testAn overwhelming amount of student testing has increasingly become the norm for kids of all ages across the nation. And in Delaware, Governor Jack Markell has recently signed on to a nationwide effort aimed at reversing the focus on school testing. This issue that has become a major point of contention amongst students, parents and educators.

So, Governor Markell joined a coalition of supporters behind a “Standardized Testing Bill of Rights.” This is a project which is designed to encourage states and districts to take the emphasis off of tests in their curriculum.

The Standardized Testing Bill of Rights was created by the Center for American Progress. The Center recently announced the project with some of its supporters, including: National PTA, New York Urban League, and School Administrators Association of New York. Delaware’s Governor Jack Markell was the sole government official involved.

According to a News Journal article on the subject, “In a controversial move last year, Markell vetoed a bill that would have created a framework for parents to “opt out” of the state’s standardized test for high school juniors. That decision drew the ire of the Delaware PTA and some lawmakers from the governor’s own party.”

Delaware currently requires students to take The Smarter Balanced Assessment test, which began replacing DCAS in Delaware in the 2014-2015 school year. The Smarter Balanced Assessment is designed with a set of new, tougher academic expectations for students. (Beginning this spring, the SAT will replace the Smarter Assessment as the state test for high school juniors throughout the Delaware, although the state will continue to administer the Smarter Assessment in grades 3 to 8.)

According to Governor Markell, The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a crucial tool for making decisions about the course of education. And in fact, civil rights groups backed his decision because they feared minority students and other at-risk kids could slip through the cracks without an objective measure of performance. Business leaders had also supported the veto because they wanted the state to have some kind of accountability for the billions it spends on schools.

The Smarter Balance Assessment is part of Governor Markell’s legacy and by signing on to the “Bill of Rights,” which discourages state’s from offering officially sanctioned routes for parents to opt out of testing, he is simply reaffirming that the Smarter Balanced is the optimal assessment.

In a statement, Governor Markell’s spokesman Jonathon Dworkin said, “The “Bill of Rights” – which emphasizes the importance of creating a few good tests that are a reflection of the curriculum instead of dozens of exams that end up dominating class time with test prep – is similar to the view taking shape on a task force assigned to review testing in Delaware,”

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Photo by Ambro and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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