NSTA Legislative Update
February 6, 2012

Pushback to Republican Plan to End Science Testing in ESEA Bill Continues

NSTA and the STEM Education Coalition are leading efforts to change language in the Republican ESEA bill that would eliminate the federal mandate to test science.

As reported in earlier issues of NSTA Express, last month Education and Workforce Chairman John Klein (R-MN) released a draft of partisan legislation that would reauthorize (rewrite) the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (known as No Child Left Behind). The two Republican bills, titled the Student Success Act and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, largely focus on the ESEA accountability system and teacher performance.

The Student Success Act reduces the federal role in education by eliminating AYP and returns the assessment of student performance back to the states. States would still be required to establish academic standards in ELA and math and assess students in reading and math in each of the grades 3–8 and once in high school. The draft legislation eliminates the federal requirement that states administer assessments in science. It is expected that Representative Kline will introduce these bills very soon.

In a letter to Representative Kline and other members of Congress, the STEM Education Coalition (which is chaired by NSTA) writes “We respectfully disagree with the draft Student Success Act’s removal of the requirement for states to test students in science. Removing the existing requirement for testing in science while maintaining testing in math and reading sends a powerful, negative, and unambiguous signal to U.S. schools and the public that science—along with all of its related subdiscliplines—is no longer a national priority. If the requirement for science testing is eliminated, schools will shift their limited resources away from science classes, less time will be devoted to science, and professional development for science educators will suffer.”

The Coalition is also strongly urging members of Congress NOT to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education’s only existing dedicated STEM education-focused program—the Math and Science Partnerships program (Title II, Part B).

If you are interested in signing your school or organization to this letter, contact Jodi Peterson at jpeterson@nsta.org.

(Back to NSTA Express)