Minnesota Legislators Consider Bills to Reduce NCLB Testing Requirements

Published April 21, 2015

Minnesota legislators have introduced bills to relieve the state of some of its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) testing requirements.

The state received federal testing waivers from NCLB in 2012 and is seeking to make them permanent. Meanwhile, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) has introduced legislation in Congress to relax NCLB testing requirements nationwide.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) in March announced a plan to cut the number of school tests by one-third. Two companion bills were introduced subsequently, HF 1591 and SF 1495, by Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) and Sen. Charles W. Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), respectively. At the federal level, U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) introduced the Student Success Act in February.

“The Student Success Act replaces No Child Left Behind with reforms that reduce the federal footprint, restore local control, and empower parents and education leaders to hold schools accountable,” said Lauren Blair Aronson, press secretary for the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee. “It repeals onerous federal requirements governing accountability, teacher quality, and how states spend their taxpayer dollars.”

Multiple Tests Required

According to a March release from the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services, “[T]he average student in Minnesota schools will take 21 standardized exams between grades three and 12.”

Additionally, high school students will take several “career and college-ready” exams and, due to requirements adopted by the Minnesota legislature early in 2015, are required to take the ACT college entrance test regardless of whether they plan to seek an undergraduate degree.

“Since we received the waivers in 2012, we’ve been allowed to develop new education models that look at student growth as the most important factor over time,” said Josh Collins, communications spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Education. “We’ve helped schools previously determined not-proficient to [become] part-proficient by developing our Multiple Measurement Rating System.”

Collins says the Multiple Measurement Rating System is “more robust” than measurements obtained from standardized testing alone. He says the main difference is the Minnesota system “is not a punitive system that merely measures degrees of failure.

“Instead, we measure success in closing achievement gaps,” Collins said.

“[The Student Success Act] will also end the era of federally mandated, high-stakes testing, while ensuring parents, taxpayers, and education leaders have the information they need to hold their neighborhood schools accountable,” said Aronson. “[It] will get the federal government out of the business of dictating education policy by returning responsibility for education to moms, dads, teachers, and state and local leaders.”

Bruce Edward Walker ([email protected]) is an information technology and telecommunications policy advisor for The Heartland Institute.

Image by COCOEN daily photos.

Learn More:

John Kline and Todd Rokita, “House Resolution 5: The Student Success Act,” February 3, 2015: https://heartland.org/policy-documents/house-resolution-5-student-success-act

Sen. Charles W. Wiger, S.F. No. 1495, March 9, 2015: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?session=ls89&number=SF1495&session_number=0&session_year=2015&version=list

Sondra Erickson, H.F. 1591, March 12, 2015: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?session=ls89&number=HF1591&session_number=0&session_year=2015&version=list

Hank Long, “Education Department Bill Hones in on Reducing Standardized Tests,” Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services, March 12, 2015: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=5598