Brewster speaks about his legislation to revamp current system of student testing

Harrisburg, May 14, 2013 – State Sen. James Brewster joined with his Senate Democratic colleagues at a news conference this week to decry a new unfunded education mandate that could saddle cash-strapped school districts with a $300 million expense and threaten graduation for thousands of students across Pennsylvania.

There is no specified funding or plan to provide for the remedial instruction, the redesign of curriculum, or the project-based assessments for those who repeatedly fail the new testing that is part of the Corbett Administration Common Core mandate, according to Brewster (D-McKeesport).  In addition, the senator said that an entirely new testing plan may be necessary.

“There is a serious need to look closer at student testing and develop a better approach that most accurately reflects student achievement and school performance,” Brewster said.  “Today’s testing system is inherently flawed and in dire need of restructuring.”

Recognizing the growing frustration with how student performance is assessed, Senator Brewster has proposed Senate Bill 823, which would create a bi-partisan, bi-cameral commission to evaluate, revise or replace the current system of student testing.

The Student Performance Measurement Advisory Commission would make recommendations to either revise heavily or replace the current testing structures that apply to students, teachers and school districts.

“For too long, too many have had questions about student testing methods– especially now that student test scores are being used for more than evaluation of student performance,” Brewster added.  “We need fair testing, fair standards and an equitable approach.

“Expanding the use of student testing to determine student and school performance, district distress and teacher proficiency is the wrong approach.”

Brewster said that he has spoken to many professional educators and they believe the current tests fail to account for socio-economic, environmental, economic disparities and cultural differences.

“Pennsylvania needs a fair, responsible student testing system that truly reflects performance in the classroom,” Brewster added.  “We need to reorder and refocus what we are doing in regards to student testing.  Using the commission that I’ve called for in SB 823 will give us the platform to make serious, systemic changes in our approach to student testing and its applicability.”


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