Sending Office: Honorable Suzanne Bonamici
Support Funding for State Assessment Grants
DEADLINE: March 14, 2018
Please join us in asking the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee to fully fund State Assessment Grants, which are authorized at $378 million in the bipartisan
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
ESSA takes a number of positive steps to undo the culture of high-stakes testing that spread under No Child Left Behind. The new education law focuses on multiple measures of student learning, which will shift attention from test scores alone, and the new
law no longer imposes rigid interventions on schools with lower test scores.
Another important feature of ESSA is that it makes resources available for states and school districts to audit their assessment systems and identify the duplicative and unhelpful tests that need to be eliminated. State Assessment Grants also provide funding
for making assessment systems more effective, including by improving the quality of assessments, speeding the delivery of assessment data to students and families, and giving educators time to collaborate and plan in response to the data. And State Assessment
Grants support the law’s new demonstration authority for select states to pilot innovative assessment systems.
With meaningful support from the federal government, states and school districts can develop more efficient systems of assessment that rely on better and fewer tests.
If you would like to sign your boss on to this letter, please complete this
form. If you have any questions, please contact Lakeisha Steele (Lakeisha.Steele@mail.house.gov) in Rep. Bonamici’s office or Katherine Loughead (Katherine.Loughead@mail.house.gov)
in Rep. Costello’s office.
Suzanne Bonamici Ryan A. Costello
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Dear Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro:
As you develop the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 appropriations bill for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, we respectfully request that you appropriate no less than $378 million for State Assessment Grants, which are authorized
in Title I, Part B, of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
For years, our country’s educators and students have been asked to teach and learn under a pall of high-stakes testing. Schools that demonstrated poor performance on federally-required tests faced a series of inflexible interventions and were given discouraging,
punitive labels. Because the consequences of low tests scores were severe, many states and districts piled on additional tests that were meant to monitor students’ progress ahead of annual summative exams.
In response to this era of test-driven learning, ESSA takes several important steps to reduce the high stakes associated with many assessments. ESSA requires states to use multiple measures of student achievement—not only test scores and graduation rates—to
evaluate schools’ performance, and it gives states and school districts control in determining how to respond to the needs of schools that are identified for support. Taken together, these changes mean test scores will no longer receive outsized emphasis.
ESSA also permits school districts to replace their statewide high school exam with a nationally-recognized assessment, like the ACT and SAT, cap the amount of time students spend taking exams, and administer multiple assessments throughout the year that result
in a summative score.
But ESSA also recognizes that high-quality assessments continue to play an important role in education. Annual assessments provide a snapshot of students’ learning across each state. This is one important tool for gauging equity in our nation’s schools.
And well-designed interim and formative assessments provide valuable information for educators and students that informs instruction and supports learning.
State Assessment Grants will provide essential resources that will help with the administration of assessments that are valid and reliable. The grants will also provide for improved assessments for students with disabilities and English learners, and the
development of new assessments, such as performance tasks and project-based assessment instruments.
Importantly, State Assessment Grants also deliver resources to states and school districts to audit their assessment systems and eliminate the duplicative and low-quality exams that proliferated under No Child Left Behind, and offer resources for making
assessment systems more effective, including by speeding the delivery of assessment data, giving educators time to collaborate and plan in response to the data, and making the results of assessments understandable for students and parents. Finally, State Assessment
Grants provide resources for up to seven states to pilot innovative assessment systems that could yield improved means of assessment.
With adequate support, states and school districts can remake their assessment systems with better, fewer tests. Bipartisan members of Congress support this goal. In ESSA, we authorized $378 million for State Assessment Grants so states and school districts
will have the resources necessary to design streamlined assessment systems that work for educators, students, and families.
We respectfully ask that you appropriate no less than $378 million for State Assessment Grants in FY 2019. Thank you for considering our request.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0