Madeloni Testimony on H 340

Testimony from MTA President Barbara Madeloni in favor of H. 340 – An Act Relative to a Moratorium on High-Stakes Testing and PARCC

Good afternoon. My name is Barbara Madeloni, and I am president of the 110,000-member Massachusetts Teachers Association, a member of the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance and a former English teacher and teacher educator.

I urge you to approve House bill 340, which calls for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing so that we can analyze the impact of testing on our students and determine a better way to support the schools our students, our educators and our communities deserve.

Over the past year, I spoke with more than 1,000 MTA members at 37 forums across the state. At every single forum, the excessive focus on high-stakes testing was a major concern.

Teachers are not against assessing our students' learning and growth. We do that all the time. We are against reducing our students' accomplishments to their scores on standardized tests. Our students are more than a score. - MTA President Barbara Madeloni

Let me be clear: Teachers are not against assessing our students’ learning and growth. We do that all the time. We are against reducing our students’ accomplishments to their scores on standardized tests. Our students are more than a score.

We have, over the last 15 years, been inundated with the narrowest notions of what teaching and learning look like. We have allowed ourselves to be persuaded by rhetoric that silences teachers, students and parents — rhetoric that denies the reality of students' lives, of what it means to be homeless, to live a life of economic frailty in a world still marred by racism.

We have allowed ourselves to blame teachers for these injustices instead of holding ourselves accountable for the well-being of our communities. And we have denied the root causes of poor student outcomes: students living in poverty; students learning differently without adequate individualized attention; and students needing more time to become fluent in English. In denying these, we have failed to provide our students and communities with what they really need. Economic security. Rich, varied and culturally responsive curricula. Time for students to learn and engage in the world.

Today you will hear about the ways testing and test prep have become the focus of teaching and learning, narrowing the curriculum and undermining a pedagogy that includes hope, creativity, joy and imagination. You will hear how the punitive nature of high-stakes testing creates an atmosphere of mistrust, fear and stress for students, teachers and administrators; of how the focus on testing keeps educators from knowing and teaching to the whole child and to the broad purposes of education in democracy.

These speakers represent the voices of students, parents and educators not only from Massachusetts but from across the nation, where a movement is growing to reclaim our public schools. This movement asserts that our public schools must be meaningful, creative and joyful places of learning, not institutions of accountability and compliance based on a misguided testing regimen.

Please listen. Let's put a stop to this madness and let’s engage in a conversation long overdue: What do we want for every student in Massachusetts, and how can we best know that all students are getting the education they deserve?

Thank you.