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We're spending growing amounts of time, money and energy on high-stakes and standardized tests that aren’t even reliable measures of student learning and educator effectiveness. It's not right. But there is something you can do! Use this Time to Teach, Time to Learn resolution and the step-by-step guide to get it passed by your local school board. There is no “one size fits all” way to run a school board resolution campaign, but the following ideas should help you get started:
[Click Here] to download the Time to Teach, Time to Learn draft school board resolution and use it to help end the overuse and misuse of standardized testing in your school district.
Every community has some kind of organization you can tap into: existing established community organizations, neighborhood associations, and parent organizations. Check and see if there are other groups working on testing issues in your community. If not, pull together an organizing committee with representatives from different constituencies including faith-based groups, students and youth organizations, parent groups, etc. Call a first meeting to launch this idea.
If you are unsure about where your school board stands on testing issues, you may want to start by surveying the board so you can assess who are your allies, swing members, and those that will pose a tough challenge. Meet with each board member and ask if they would generally support a Time to Teach resolution. This effort can be divided among different organizations, but is also a way to engage your members. Make sure there is a point person who is collecting the results of the survey to report back at the next meeting.
Survey educators and parents about the impact of high-stakes testing. Use this information and any anecdotes to build your case and share this with school board members.
Create a petition and disperse it widely through Facebook and other social media, at parent and educator meetings, etc. The petition should demand that the school board “get on board” and take a stand on Time to Teach, Time to Learn.
Identify your strongest ally (or allies) on the school board and set up a meeting with him/her to discuss introducing a resolution. Bring an education packet to share. Include talking points, newspaper articles, signed petitions, and survey data — a visual of the survey data is even better! Ask the board member(s) to take the lead in garnering the support of other board members. Ask him/her to approve the language in the draft resolution. This process may take a number of days and a fair amount of negotiating.
If the board person is not willing to lead the effort to get a resolution passed, first assess the reasons why. Is it that the resolution you presented as written would prove impossible to secure his/her support? Is he/she afraid to take the lead on this issue? Depending on the reason, you may want to take some of the following paths:
At any point in this process, you may want to consider setting up a public event in your city/district to garner wider support for the Time to Teach, Time to Learn resolution, to bring more citizen power into the effort, and to build the movement in your area. One way to involve school board members early in this effort is to set up a "town hall meeting" with a panel of people presenting the various arguments for (and against) the resolution and a panel of board members and citizens listening and asking follow-up questions.
The easiest way to make the resolution effort appealing to the media is to demonstrate the direct impact on the students in your district and your community. The NEA High Standards-Fair Testing Team is available to help you deal with various aspects of the work.
A public education event or action is a great opportunity to inform journalists about the campaign and build support to get the Time to Teach, Time to Learn resolution passed. If you are not holding a public education event, consider holding a news conference featuring school board members leading the effort and diverse members of your coalition.
If you don't have board members friendly to your cause, you may want to plan media outreach around an action designed to target board members and expose their unwillingness to support parents and educators. Ideas include: holding a test-in at a public space, holding a vigil at their home, or conducting some other creative action to garner attention for the Time to Teach, Time to Learn resolution. Draft a news release and send it to your local and regional press. Don’t overlook education and parent bloggers in your area.
If a resolution passes successfully, don't forget to do follow-up media work. Hold a news conference and claim a victory for your issue.
Although the misuse and overuse of high-stakes and standardized testing is a serious issue for our schools and students, some boards may be unwilling to take on this issue and adopt a Time to Teach, Time to Learn resolution.
The following are some alternative options for expressing the support for your position in your school district/city:
Get involved in state legislative efforts on this issue in your state. Find out what legislation is being introduced on testing and find out how your local association can get involved. Email your member of Congress about the grade-span testing bill, HR 4172.